Long axe

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Distinct from smaller hand axes, two-handed ‘Danish’ axes were characteristic of viking elites and were the trademark weapon of the professional hearth-troops of the eleventh century Anglo-Danish kings – the huscarls. They appear to date from the tenth century onwards, so should not be used at earlier shows.

Illustration of a daneaxe

A Long axe in the hands of a Saxon huscarl at the battle of Hastings

The larger Dane axeheads should be wedge-shaped, with either curving or semi-straight edges. Dane axeheads may be decorated with gold or silver wire inlaid into the axehead.

  • Axeheads must be secure and should be shafted (from the bottom of the shaft) so that the axehead will not fly off the top
  • Axeheads should not have sharp points – the tips should be curved to match a 5 pence coin
  • Axe shafts must be smooth and unsplintered

Long axes in the Sagas

"When Kveldulf came aft to the stern-castle, he brandished high his battle-axe, and smote Hallvard right through helm and head, so that the axe sank in even to the shaft; then he snatched it back towards him so forcibly that he whirled Hallvard aloft, and slung him overboard."

- Egil's Saga, Chapter 27

"Steinthor Olafson rushed at him and struck him a blow on the neck just above his shoulders with a great axe, severing his head cleanly".

- The Saga of the People of Laxardal, Chapter 55

Images of long axes

Harold Godwineson and huscarls with long axes, from the Bayeux Tapestry. Bayeux Tapestry Scene 29 - Harold with longaxes.jpg

Two huscarls using long axes to deadly effect. Bayeux Tapestry Scene 52b - Huscarls fighting.jpg

A 10th century Long Axe head found in the River Thames. Now in the British Museum Collection, the blade is 28cm long. ThamesLongaxe.jpg