The Vikings were famous for their superior fighting skills. They were fierce and won many battles. The secret to their success lay in using powerful weapons and armors. Every time they went into battle, the Vikings were always prepared since they comprehended the benefits of using armor.
This protected their bodies from the impact of weapons from their enemies. Different types of armor linked to the Viking age have been discovered over the years. We will discuss the kind of armor that the Vikings used to wear during battle and what each type was made from. Read on!
Did Vikings Wear Chainmail?
The chainmail was one of the most expensive armors during the 11th century. Due to the high cost of this armor, only wealthy Vikings wore it. It was common among the kings and their fighting team. Researchers found chainmail fragments on some skeletons in Old Russia, dating back to the 13th century. This was commonly used in Birka during the Viking age.
Chainmail was a woven coat that wealthy warriors wore on top of regular armor to offer more protection. The Vikings made this type of armor with long sleeves to cover the arms during war. It extended up to the waist area or to the knees. This type of armor was made from interlinking numerous iron rings together. Making chainmail was a tedious process.
In Norway, King Harald was among the elite people that put on chainmail during battle. He even gave his chainmail a name. This type of armor protected him from weapons like swords and arrows from enemies during war. Unfortunately, the King died after going into a battle without his armor.
Though the Vikings protected themselves with such armors, they were not afraid to die since they believed that the Norse gods pre-ordained their destinies. They believed that King Harald earned entry into Valhalla after dying in the battle.
Since the Vikings made chainmail from numerous iron rings, most Viking warriors found it cumbersome and preferred not to wear it. Battles took hours during the middle age, and wearing chainmail was draining for some Vikings.
Apart from being cumbersome, most Vikings chose not to wear chainmail since it was uncomfortable during the hot months. This was why King Harald went into battle without his favorite armor. When Viking warriors died while wearing chainmail, they were not buried with this armor. Since this was an expensive piece of armor, it was mostly passed down to the deceased’s son.
Did Vikings Wear lamellar armor?
While the elite Viking warriors wore chainmail, historical evidence suggests that most warriors preferred lamellar armor. This was another type of metal armor that offered protection to different body parts. For instance, this was designed to protect the shoulders, back, legs, stomach, or chest.
The lamellar armor was common in regions such as Birka and Turkey. It was commonly used in the Byzantine Empire. In 1826, specific graves containing skeletons were examined in a particular site, and there was evidence of the men laid with lamellar armor. This type of armor was commonly used in Scandinavia during the Viking age.
Many Viking warriors preferred this type of armor over chainmail since it was affordable and came in a simple design. This type of armor was also dominantly used since it did not have a very long production process and also looked great. The Vikings made lamellar armor from interlinking steel or iron plates with leather laces.
Just like the chainmail, the Viking warriors wore lamellar armor over other clothing. Though this type of armor was cheaper and less cumbersome than chainmail, it did not offer the same level of protection as chainmail.
What else did the Viking warriors wear?
Apart from the chainmail and lamellar armor, the Viking warriors also wore other types of armor during different battles. During the Norse period, the Vikings’ body armor featured patterns or contained some wooden carvings. The wealthy Vikings wore better kinds of armor compared to the less privileged. Here are more types of armor that were common among the Viking warriors.
This was a crucial type of armor that the Vikings could not go to war without. It was important since it could protect the head from blows during battle. It was easy to sustain a severe injury during war or even be killed without a helmet. The helmet offered protection against weapon attacks to the head.
Since the Vikings were great metalworkers, they created robust helmets that were made from iron. The helmets came in different shapes, such as round or conical, and contained eye guards and nose bridges.
Every Viking warrior that was about to fight enemies could also bring a shield with them. This was a crucial type of armor that the Vikings used as an offensive weapon. It also protected them from edged weapons like swords.
Having a shield could prevent Vikings from being killed during the war. These warriors used various types of shields which were constructed differently. Due to the heavyweight of this armor, most of them came with a strap. This enabled the Vikings to carry the armor over the back or shoulder. The size and shape of Viking shields changed over time. This type of armor also featured some decorations so that warriors could choose one according to their tastes.
This was also another type of armor that the Vikings commonly used. Some warriors preferred wearing torso armor to using other types since it enhanced maneuverability. They wore leather body armor to war since it was flexible and less cumbersome. During the 11th century, leather vest armor was dominant since it was also comfortable to wear.
Viking warriors knew how to defend themselves during battles. They did this by investing in different types of armor such as chainmail, helmet, shield, vest body armor, and lamellar armor. Vikings took their time to choose an ideal type since they considered crucial factors such as comfort, weight, and flexibility.