Blacksmiths in the Viking age were highly skilled artisans who crafted a variety of objects from metal, including weapons, tools, and jewelry. They used a variety of techniques, including forge welding and pattern welding, to create strong and beautiful objects well ahead of their time. Vikings valued blacksmiths for their skill and craftsmanship, and they played an important role in Viking society.
A Short History:
Viking blacksmiths were traditionally not the upper class of society and worked long, grueling hours for little pay. Despite this, the blacksmiths of the Viking age continued to develop their craft, creating technology that was unheard of for the time period. Much can be attributed to the Viking swordsmiths. This is evident in archeological finds throughout Scandinavia and Europe.
Blacksmiths used a variety of techniques, including smelting, forge work, and casting, to create their products. As the Viking Age was a time of great technological advancement, blacksmiths would have been at the forefront of innovation, developing new methods and technologies to create ever-more intricate and impressive metalwork.
Viking smiths were highly skilled artisans who used a variety of techniques to shape iron and other metals into the desired form. In addition to their forge-based work, blacksmiths also engaged in other activities such as trading, repair work, and combat.
Viking age swords were typically made of carbon steel with a rockwell hardness of around 45 to 55. They were usually between 24 to 36 inches in length and had a double-edged blade with a typically large fuller running down the center. The hilt was often made of steel, but bone, or wood could be used as well. The pommel was usually spherical or tear-shaped. Swords from this period were designed for both slashing and thrusting, and were often used in conjunction with a shield.
Viking swords were extremely rare and expensive. Only those in the higher class who possessed money and political power could afford to have one. Viking warriors as a whole, rarely used swords because of this. The famed and formidable axe was the weapon of choice for the Viking warrior.
During the Viking Age, axes were commonly used as weapons. Most axes had a curved blade, which made them effective for slicing and chopping. Bearded axes, and Dane axes are the two most famous axehead designs associated with the axe. The handle was made of a hard wood.
Viking Scabbards were traditionally made from leather, some having a wooden core. Scabbards could be adorned with stamps and designs or be plain leather. It all depended on the rank and wealth of it's owner. Scabbards not only allowed the warrior easy storage when not in battle, but also rapid deployment of the sword when needed. Scabbards with a wooden core assisted in preventing moisture build up, which could contribute to rapid rusting on the carbon steel blade.
Viking axes were typically wielded with one hand, allowing the user to carry a second axe, hold a shield, or have a free hand to grab an opponent. The weight of the axe also helped to generate more force when swung. This made them formidable weapons against both armored and unarmored opponents. The axes were made from a variety of materials, including iron, steel, and even bronze.
Like the sword, many warriors could not afford armor, so they went into battle with little to no protection. The Vikings that could afford armor traditionally wore steel helmets (which did not have horns as is commonly misrepresented). They also wore leather chest and back plates. While leaving them open for injury, the benefit was freedom of movement and speed. There was little armor weighing them down allowing for speed, full range of movement, and violence of action. Viking armor was common, but not as much as with their English counterparts.
In conclusion, blacksmiths were an extremely important part of Viking society. They were responsible for creating many of the tools and weapons that were used in everyday life and in battle. Without them, the Vikings would not have been able to thrive the way they did, nor would they have been able to make their widespread mark on the world. Today, we can still learn from their techniques and skills. We respect the ways of the old and our forge does it's best to pay homage to the ways of our ancestors.