Viking Sword Terminology: A Beginner's Guide 1

Viking swords are a fascinating and iconic aspect of Norse history, art, and culture. These weapons were central to the survival, pillaging, and trading ventures of the Vikings, and they featured intricate designs, symbols, and engravings that reflected the Viking worldview, mythology, and traditions. If you are new to the realm of Viking swords, this guide will provide you with some basic and essential terminology that you need to know before exploring this fascinating domain further.

Blade Anatomy

The blade of a Viking sword is its most important element, and different parts of the blade have distinct names and functions. The following are some of the most common terms related to blade anatomy.

Viking Sword Terminology: A Beginner's Guide 2

  • Point: the sharp end of the blade used for thrusting and piercing
  • Edge: the sharpened side of the blade used for cutting and slicing
  • Back: the non-sharpened edge of the blade opposite the edge
  • Ridge: the raised section of the blade that runs from the hilt to the point to add strength and stability
  • Fuller: a groove or channel running along the length of the blade to make it lighter and more agile
  • By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can appreciate the craftsmanship, design, and utility of Viking sword blades more fully.

    Hilt Anatomy

    The hilt of a Viking sword is the handle or grip that allows the wielder to hold and control the weapon. It typically consists of several distinct components that serve different purposes and functions.

  • Guard: a crosspiece located between the blade and the handle to protect the wielder’s hand and provide leverage and balance
  • Pommel: a weight at the bottom of the hilt that serves as a counterbalance to the blade and can be used as a striking or smashing weapon
  • Grip: the portion of the handle that the wielder holds, which can vary in length, thickness, and material
  • Tang: the part of the blade that extends into the handle and is secured by rivets, peening, or other means to ensure stability and strength
  • By understanding the different components of a Viking sword hilt, you can appreciate the ergonomics, aesthetics, and functionality of these weapons in a more comprehensive way.


    The materials used to make Viking swords have a significant impact on their performance, durability, and value. The following are some of the most common materials found in Viking swords and their characteristics.

  • Iron: a relatively common and inexpensive material that can be forged and tempered to make sturdy and sharp blades
  • Steel: a more advanced and expensive material that results from combining iron with carbon to make even harder and sharper blades
  • Damascus: a type of steel with a distinctive pattern of wavy lines and curves created by folding and manipulating different types of metal together
  • Bone: a decorative and lightweight material used to make hilt components or decorative inlays
  • Ivory: a luxurious and rare material used to make high-end hilt components or decorative inlays
  • By learning about the different materials used in Viking swords, you can appreciate the value, craftsmanship, and rarity of these weapons more fully.


    Viking swords were not just tools or weapons, but also symbols of power, identity, and cultural heritage. Many Viking swords featured intricate designs, symbols, and engravings that reflected the Viking worldview, mythology, and traditions, and that could carry a range of meanings and messages. Here are some examples of common Viking sword symbols and their significance.

  • Thor’s hammer: a symbol of strength, protection, and divine favor associated with the Norse god Thor
  • Yggdrasil: a symbol of the world tree that connects different realms and embodies the Norse cosmology and mythology
  • Dragons and serpents: symbols of primal forces, chaos, and transformation that mirror the Norse dragons and serpents in mythology
  • Runes: letters of the Viking alphabet that were thought to carry magical and mystical powers, and that could be used for inscriptions, blessings, or curses
  • By deciphering the symbolism of Viking swords, you can gain insights into the Viking mindset, culture, and spiritual beliefs, and appreciate the artistic and historical significance of these weapons more deeply. To further enhance your understanding of the subject, be sure to check out this specially curated external resource. Examine this helpful guide, it’s filled with worthwhile details to enhance your reading experience.


    By familiarizing yourself with the basic terminology related to Viking sword blades, hilts, materials, and symbolism, you can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of these fascinating and iconic weapons. Whether you are a history buff, an art collector, or a weapon enthusiast, Viking swords offer a wealth of insights, aesthetics, and cultural richness to explore and enjoy.

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