Saturday, October 1, 2016

Archaeologists have discovered one of the largest Viking axes ever found, in the tomb of a 10th-century "power couple" in Denmark.

It's a bit rusty, but still impressive.

The simplicity of the mighty ax, without any decorations or inscriptions, suggests this fearsome weapon was not just for show.  It's size would have required two hands to use.
The Anglo-Saxons used a similar weapon, which characterized a warrior class they called the "huskarlar."  It was a fearsome weapon when used in skilled hands, and could cut a man in two lengthwise, or lop off the head of a horse.  They are depicted in use by the huskarlar on the Bayeaux Tapestry.  In the section below, one attempts to dismount a Norman knight by beheading his horse.

And the man in the tomb was buried with his ax alone. "He didn't have anything else buried with him, so I think you can say he identified himself as a warrior above anything else," Nielsen said.
The ax was one of the artifacts recovered from the Haarup Viking tomb, or dødehus, which means "death house" in Danish. The tomb consisted of a wooden palisade or roofed structure, about 13 feet (4 meters) wide and 43 feet (13 m) long, which was constructed around the two graves.
The tomb was built around A.D. 950 for the burial of a man and a woman of evident distinction.

Other finds from the tomb, and other sites in Haarup, show that the local Vikings likely had some international connections, whether through trade or travel,  the archaeologists said.  The woman in the tomb was buried with a decorated ceramic cup that originated in the Baltic region, Nielsen said. Two silver coins of a Middle Eastern type called “dirhams,” thought to be from an area that is now in Afghanistan, were found in the grave of another Viking woman buried nearby.

Perhaps our dead viking had traveled to England and hired himself out to the Saxons.  His grave was built a short 100 years before William the Conquerer, so it's a possibility he did, made his fortune, and retired rich back to his home in Denmark.

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