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  • Writer's pictureJoe

The Fascinating History and Functionality of Viking Armor

Viking Helmet with chain mail
Viking Helmet with Chain Mail


Viking armor was used by the Norse warriors of the Viking Age (9th-11th centuries). It consisted of a range of garments and accessories designed to protect the body from harm in battle. Viking armor was not a standardized set of garments, but rather a combination of various pieces that could be adapted to the needs and resources of the individual warrior.


Viking warriors commonly used shields as a form of protection in battle. These shields were typically made of wood and covered with leather or hide. They were round or oval in shape and ranged in size from about two to four feet in diameter. Viking shields were held in the left hand, leaving the right hand free to wield a weapon.

Armor was an expensive prospect, many Vikings did not have the means to afford it. Therefore, the majority of Vikings went minimalist, only wearing helmets, and carrying a shield. Alas, most went without anything at all. There were benefits to not having any armor as you didn't have anything weighing you down, no helmet to inhibit vision, and both arms were available for fighting. The down sides are obvious. Those warriors that couldn't afford steel armor, also had an option of thick leather, which lent a modicum of protection. In short, it was better than nothing.


In addition to mail armor and shield, Viking warriors also wore helmets to protect their heads in battle. Viking helmets designs varied widely, but most had a conical shape with a nose guard and cheek guards to protect the face. Some helmets designs also included a chainmail neck guard or a plate of metal that extended down the back of the neck. No Viking helmet ever had horns as is commonly misrepresented in pop culture.

viking helmet with brass
Viking helmet with brass

Plate & Scale Armor:

Other types of armor used by the Vikings included plate armor and scale armor. Plate armor was made of individual metal plates that were riveted or welded together to form a suit of armor. Plate armor provided excellent protection against cuts and blows, but it was also expensive and time-consuming to produce. As a result, it was not as common as mail armor among the Vikings.

Scale armor, on the other hand, was made of small metal scales that were sewn onto a backing of leather or fabric. Scale armor was lighter and less expensive to produce than plate armor, but it was also less effective at protecting against cuts and blows.

In addition to these types of armor, Viking warriors also wore a variety of garments and accessories to protect their bodies in battle. These included padded trousers and tunics, leather boots, and gloves. Viking warriors also carried a range of weapons, including swords, axes, spears, and shields.

Viking armor was an essential part of the Norse warrior's equipment. It allowed them to face the dangers of battle with confidence, knowing that they were protected against the blows and cuts of their enemies. Despite its effectiveness, however, Viking armor was not foolproof, and many warriors still fell in battle despite being well-protected.

two vikings standing with plate armor and weapons
two vikings with plate armor

The use of armor in Viking society was not limited to warriors. Some members of the upper class, such as chieftains and nobles, also wore armor as a symbol of their status and wealth. Armor was also used in various rituals and ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, and coronations.


In conclusion, Viking armor was a vital part of the Norse warrior's equipment. It consisted of a range of garments and accessories designed to protect the body from harm in battle, including mail armor, shields, helmets, plate armor, and scale armor. While it was not foolproof, Viking armor provided warriors with a much-needed sense of security and confidence in the face of danger.

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