If you want to use this site please update your browser!

Axe Head

11th-12th centuries

Although the Weapons and Armor Division's collection numbers some 14,000 items, the museum has relatively few examples of early medieval European armor and weapons, and even fewer with a significant degree of decoration or in unexcavated condition. This Scandinavian axe is therefore an important addition to the collection as a fine medieval exhibit and, in particular, as the first elaborately decorated Viking axe to become part of the permanent collection. Decorated weapons - swords, axes, spears - were the most prized possessions of Viking men, an important symbol of their rank and status in society as well as functional fighting equipment. This axe is a fine example of a broad axe form, as well as a rare and significant voluminous and preserved scroll ornament, richly inlaid with silver wire.

The shape and construction demonstrate all the features that define and distinguish this type of axe head. The cutting edge, or chisel, curves in an arc from the toe to the heel; the upper edge of the body is slightly longer than the lower edge, making the head asymmetrically shifted toward the toe. Both edges taper into a short neck, which transitions to the bell. The lower edge of the bellows transitions into a short rounded point or lapta. In addition to the wide flat band along both sides of the cutting edge, the axe head as a whole is decorated with silver wire inlay in the form of scrolls and linear patterns.