Melee Weapon Combat Rules

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VikeFest 2021

The Vikings are aiming to create the largest battles ever held by re-enactors of the Viking age in the UK. There will be at least five large battles over the weekend from Friday to Sunday when open to the public. Friday will be a safety day anyone wishing to participate in the battles must be present at this Friday safety session. Armies for the battle will also be finalised on the Friday. Anyone who has participated in Viking combat in western style with pulled blows will find that they need only adapt a little to these rules. The aim is safety and fun. The Viking combat system is not purely one of martial skill. It is also about putting on a dynamic spectacle for each other, as well as for the audience who have paid to watch us. To this end, a brilliant, sneaky, lightning-fast, tippy-tappy shot that only you see may stoke your own ego but it is not considered the best shot because no-one else sees it. The blow that gets you the kill whilst being seen by others and the audience who then "whoop their delight at your awesomeness" is the best shot. "By all means fight hard,but also fight fair and remember the audience is watching, even in your awesome death throes."

General Points

The Vikings police the safety and authenticity at events through sets of Officers called Recognised Training Thegns (RTT) for combat and Authenticity Officers and Armourers for both the specifications and authenticity of weapons. These officers will be indicated at VikeFest by a red armband. Their job is to ensure that all participants enjoy a safe, authentic and fun event. Issues should be first settled between the warriors involved (but never on the field), otherwise report any safety issues to your group leader and then to The Viking’s officers. In the event of a serious incident, officers have whistles they will blow – if you hear a whistle, pull back to your start line and await orders to continue. Combat must only take place in the approved areas during the event. These will be clearly identified.

The Vikings reserved the right to remove anyone from combat training or displays if they are considered unsafe.


The target zone for all weapons is the body and upper legs above the knee. The head and arms are not a target. No thrusts are allowed to the legs by any melee weapon. Anyone delivering a strike to the head or neck will immediate remove themselves from the fight usually by dropping to the floor as if dead. They may allow their opponent to deliver a finishing blow, but this is not required.

Missile Weapons

Bows, javelins and slings stones will be used by suitably qualified warriors. The page on Missile Weapon Combat Rules gives the specifications for these.

Hits and Kills

All blows are pulled to the target zone and delivered with the edge or point of a weapon. Only the metal parts of hand to hand weapons count. Arrows and javelins are rubber tipped; sling shot are bean bags with a maximum weight of 85 grams (usually much less). Hits to the target zones by these count in the same way as hits from melee weapons. Hits from arrows or sling shot only count if loosed from a bow or sling. On the first blow to a legal target zone the warrior being hit must immediate stop fighting, including any defensive action. Movement is limited to a walk of a few steps back unless assisted by another warrior (no running). The warrior hit by the blow must count slowly to 10 seconds. If they are not struck again,by any weapon, during the count, they may re-join the battle. This may happen many times during a battle. If the warrior is struck by any weapon or missile within the count of ten, then the warrior must go to the ground and act as if dead. Any warriors going to ground must not rise until the instruction “dead arise” is given, although they may crawl or otherwise act wounded. Please remember that missile weapons will be being used, so keep your head low to the ground.

Mutual Hits

Warriors landing mutual hits must react to the blow they have received. If this is in the target zone they should react to this (see Hits and Kills).

Armour and Shields

Steel maille or ring shirt is the only kind of armour recognised as armour in the rules. Padding alone does not count as armour.

We wear armour primarily to look the part, rather than give us an advantage in a battle.

However, certainly in one-on-one fighting (e.g. a Circle) armour counts in the event of a mutual hit, where the armoured warrior may ignore the hit whilst the unarmoured warrior must react to the hit as usual. If both are armoured, react to the blow but carry on - the armour has done its job. If you keep getting mutual hits, then at some point one of you should be thinking this is beginning to look stupid so perhaps die well instead of negating each other - there are many ways to win!

No lamellar armour will be allowed, on authenticity ground.

Knives and passive weapons may be carried in sheaths or scabbards but blows to passive weapons that would have hit the target area still count as a hit. A shield carried on a warrior’s back does not protect him from a hit.

Strictly Not Allowed

  • Sharp weapons of any kind must not be taken onto the battle field.
  • Deliberate hits to off-target areas.
  • Hooking parts of a warrior’s body with axes.
  • “Pool queuing” with spears. That is the sliding of spears through the hands. Spears already have a long range, pool-queuing just increases that benefit further to the detriment of the rest of the combatants - we do not wish to have combat driven by long spears.
  • Knives and saexes for combat under 18cm blade-length.
  • “Eastern style” Cavalry hammers.
  • “Eastern style” sabres.
  • Maces.
  • Kite shields.

Safety Equipment

Helmets and padded safety gloves must be worn by all. Helmets must be authentic types if visible, but can be of modern materials in hidden under an authentic hat. Armguards are recommended but these should not be visible. Other types of modern armour are optional, including knee and elbow pads, fencing cups for women and boxes for men, but must be hidden under authentic clothing.

Weapon Specs

Most weapons in use in Viking re-enactments will meet our specifications. All weapons must of the types used during the Viking age. All weapons and shields should be in good condition without damage. All weapons will be checked before the battles. The Vikings reserve the right for officers to remove weapons from use in combat, if deemed unsafe or unsuitable.


Round shield should be of strong construction made of wood with leather or rawhide rim with a metal central boss. No metal shield rims.

Swords, Knives and Axes

All points rounded to approximately 18mm. All cutting edges of a minimum of 2mm thickness and rounded. Points at curve in a semi-circular arc at 24.5mm. Swords must be of hardened steel.


Overall length of spear can be between 1.7m and 2.6m. Spear lengths above 2.3m are rare and may be subject to restricted target zones. Blade edge must be minimum of 2mm. Blade points must be 3mm minimum and curve in a semi-circular arc of 24.5mm (50 cent coin). Blade points of over 4.7mm may curve at a semi-circular arc of 22.5 mm (10 cent coin). Spears used in 1-hand must be held in the middle third of the shaft.

Contact for questions

  • Warwick Kinrade (warwickkinrade[at] - Vikefest organising committee
  • Jon Finch (freki.finch[at] The Vikings Combat Training Officer
  • Maiken Bagley (mlbagley[at] The Vikings Missile Officer
  • Kendall Kinrade The Vikings Battle Captain (Konal Ospakr Ulfrekson on FB)

these can be contacted via Facebook Group - Battle of 1000 Spears Vikefest 2021

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