Danish axe

The Danish long axe went by many names, including Dane-axe, English long axe, Viking axe, and hafted axe. Originally used by the Northmen in Viking times, the Danish axe was a modification of a woodsman's axe that made it an amazingly effective weapon of war. The shaft of the axe was usually between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) long, and quite heavy. The blade itself, was very wide, reasonably light and forged very thin, making it superb for cutting. It could be swung at very great speed. Although the name retains its Viking heritage, the Danish axe became widely used throughout Europe through the 13th century. In addition to the Vikings, the Franks and the formerly Danish-occupied Saxons of England adopted the use of the Dane-axe. Specifically the huscarles were known for wielding this monstrous weapon of war, and there are ivory carvings of Byzantine Varangian guards carrying axes as tall as men. The axes used by the Huscarl bodyguards of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, though relatively small, showed the power of this weapon. They were swung around the wielder's head before being brought down on the enemy, and (it is claimed) could cut through a Norman knight and his horse with one blow. Richard Lionheart used a Danish axe in the Third Crusade. One can see depictions of this axe in the Bayeux Tapestry.

After the Battle of Stiklestad, the axe also became the symbol of St. Olaf and can still be seen on the Coat of Arms of Norway.

See also

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