Viking Spear tactics

Moderator: Moderators

Høvding
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Bergen Norway

Viking Spear tactics

Postby Høvding » Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:03 pm

I was speaking with a friend recently, who was adamant the vikings used spears as throwing weapons, However, the vast majority of spears I have seen hacve heads that are easily 45cm, and are pattern welded. It seems that this would have been to difficult to throw accuately and too expensive to discard.

So I was wondering if anyone knows of any references to spears being cast?

Tussen takk :)


''Ingen skal gå
et eneste skritt
fra våpnene sine på vollen:
for uvisset er å vite
på vegen en farer
når det blir sporsmål om spyd''

User avatar
Aelfric
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:32 am
Location: Cheshire
Contact:

Postby Aelfric » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:55 pm

Off the top of my head the poem The Battle of Maldon has mentions of thrown spears.



User avatar
Neil of Ormsheim
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:37 pm
Location: Deepest Darkest Leeds

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:12 am

Most warriors would have carried several spears. Some were obviously throwing weapons and at least one would have been kept (the one with the big heavier head) for use as the shield walls met. When fully tooled up as heavy infantry (Huscarl/Hersir) I carry three javelins, a two handed spear with a 14inch long head (not counting the socket!) which *can * be used one handed with a shield, a sword and a knife.

The javelins are thrown as the shield walls approach each other, the spear is used one handed with my 33 inch diameter shield in the first clash, then I switch to the sword and shield and, if we are winning, I switch back to the big spear backed up with a knife in my back hand to finish off the enemy.

Literary references include The battle of Maldon where Brithnoth is hit by a thrown spear and throws it back killing the original caster. Beowulf where, in the mead hall they cast spears through the axe heads (I assume this refers to axes with a cut out section in the head to save on metal/weight) and King Harolds Saga where Harold Hadrarda is said to have been able to catch two thrown javelins simultaniously and throw them back again.

One thing to remember - in this period (and previously) the majority of missile weapons were not designed specifically to kill but to disrupt enemy formations by renedering shields unusable (try fighting with a shield with a javelin stuck in it - not nice!) or by encouraging enemy warriors to duck and weave to avoid getting hit (again - try keeping a shield wall together under a rain of missiles). Wounding or killing an opponent is a bonus with most missiles, breaking up the enemy formation is obect.


Lurv 'n' Kizzez

User avatar
WorkMonkey
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2005 1:00 pm
Location: Buuuuurmingum
Contact:

Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:39 pm

Depends what kind of spear isnt it, some are little things with tiny heads, obviously meant for carrying a handful and chucking, some have heads the size of sword blades on them, obviously a one or, more probably a two handed slashing weapon. Context is important, anything can be used as a throwing weapon if you're trying to keep someone away from you, but it does appear some spears were specifically designed to be thrown, and some to thrust. Certainly they wouldn't have thrown all their spears, or else they'd be left standing in the shield wall with nothing to do except be stabbed by the spear of the guy opposite you.

Spear is the primary weapon from the highest king, to the lowliest ceorl, unlike re-enactment, not everyone had a sword back then.


WORKMONKEY: The Wilderness Years.
Image
Look at the monkey, funny monkey
Little red monkey, acting so fidgety

Høvding
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Bergen Norway

Postby Høvding » Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:26 am

Thanks for the information guys, I shall look up the refrences mentioned soon. God jul


''Ingen skal gå

et eneste skritt

fra våpnene sine på vollen:

for uvisset er å vite

på vegen en farer

når det blir sporsmål om spyd''


Return to “410-1100”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests