The image of the Vikings is immutable associated with the image of strong male fighters armed with a large axe or pole-axe. It must be admitted that such conceptions are not at all far from the truth because after all every man who lived in Scandinavia in the 8th and 11th centuries was certainly a fighter. And even if most of his life the man was engaged in agriculture or cattle breeding, he was still ready at any time to take up the Viking’s weapon and armor and leave for a conquest or to defend his lands.
Straight away after the appearance of the Viking tribes, their armies were badly prepared in terms of tactics, the number of detachments was also not always great. But notwithstanding, in other countries, people were afraid of the Vikings, as they envisioned a really serious menace. Even a small detachment could bring huge destruction. This is explained by several features of Viking warriors artwork.
The first thing to note is the high mobility of individual units. Quite often Norse warriors acted on the territory of the enemy in disparate groups, which made it more difficult to fight against them. The main goal of the attackers was profit and only a few centuries later (with the appearance of larger semi-professional armies) the Vikings began to hold the captured lands.
A specific threat the Norwegian tribes appeared for the part of Europe that had access to the sea or at least to the navigable rivers because another major trump card of the Scandinavians was seafaring. Their flat-bottomed vessels could pass almost any river. Arriving at their destination, legendary Norse warriors suddenly and almost with lightning speed were landing on the shore, seizing horses from the town dwellers of the land and were getting over by land already on the horseback. Such a trick turned into a favorite Viking art style used to attack.
The use of horses for traveling over land did not affect the conduct of the battle – the Norwegians always met the enemy on foot (horses were hobbled before the outbreak of hostilities). Somewhat later (by the middle of the 9th century) the Vikings began to use temporary defensive fortifications, in this way of leading the war, the Viking warriors certainly had a barrage fire, a moat, and a picket fence.
Viking art of war and weapon
Confident of their strength, suddenness and other advantages, the Scandinavians did not particularly bother themselves with the upgrowth of tactical schemes. At time this fact became the reason for their failure in battle. Meanwhile, up to now, written evidence of some of the characteristic features in the Viking warriors artworks has been preserved.
- Wall of shields. This construction was often used by the Scandinavians in battles with many enemies. According to this fighting tactics, the soldiers were tightly clamping in a row, putting forward their shields. Now and then the formation was so dense that the shields overlapped each other to the middle. Ranks going behind could also have recourse to such a trick. In this case, the spears were on the run constantly. The soldiers of the first row rested the blunt end of the spear against the ground and the sharp end right into the chest of the horsemen. Such a technique in the martial Viking art significantly increased their chances of victory.
- “Pig” or a wedge. In the martial Viking warrior artwork, there was another method, being called the “pig”. In so doing, the soldiers were setting out in the form of a wedge (in the first row there were 2 people, in the second row – 3, in the third – 5, and so on). Tradition says that such a trick was invented by the Norse god warriors Odin, but historians believe that the wedge was developed by Roman legionaries first.
Viking weapons and armor
Preserved data show that in that epoch were widely diffused lamellate armor, historians also concede Scandinavians wearing male hauberk hoods. Mythical Norse warriors have used round shields from the beginning of times, but later they were replaced by shields-black kites.
Among other things, the Scandinavians were excellent craftspeople, the weapons quality and Viking artwork design blacksmiths were renowned far beyond the boundaries of the lands. Among the weapons predominated such exemplars like swords, spears, in the course of time all sorts of axes appeared.
None of the tribe warriors was sent on a military campaign without the Viking war symbol. So-called symbols were represented by talismans or amulets, with secret signs and Viking weapon runes. Such symbols were often applied to jewelry: thor’s hammer bracelets, rings, Viking warriors necklace and some more.