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Find the final program here. Find the abstract booklet here. A map for the conference venue may be found here. A map of the venues for the pizza-night and conference dinner in the city centre may be found here. Kulturhistorisk museum Se kart Frederiks gate 2 Oslo.

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Postboks St. Olavs plass Oslo. Thomas J T Williams.

Celtic/Viking Battle Music Mix

Stephenson review. ISBN It also skates remarkably lightly over the crucial subjects of naval technology, organisation and tactics only seven pages relate directly to this subject: pp. Williams forthcoming. However, the absence of critical apparatus implies that this book is intended primarily for the educated general reader, and it should therefore perhaps be judged not by its failure to plug a serious gap in the scholarly literature, but rather by what it adds to the corpus of popular publications treating early medieval warfare-so often written with the re-enactor or war-gaming enthusiast in mind.

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All of this is light years ahead of most popular literature on the subject and is important stuff; the casual misrepresentation of the Scandinavian past-especially in popular culture-has provided and continues to provide the dominant stock images for nationalist and far-right fantasy. It is a shame then that these early chapters throw up their own problems, many of them needlessly caused by the overbearing tone with which the author communicates his views.

To his great credit, Stephenson includes archaeological and art-historical material in this category alongside the major Frankish and Anglo- Saxon documentary sources with a nod to Irish annals and Skaldic verse; Arab and Byzantine evidence is not mentioned. Nevertheless, by his own admission, it is with the Anglo-Saxon material that the author is most concerned and many of the sources he mentions are barely referred to in subsequent chapters. Here the reader is introduced to the persistent and problematic idea that Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian warriors used essentially identical tactics and equipment and that, therefore, observations made about the former must apply equally to the latter.

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This approach, it must be said, does help to undermine the sort of cultural-historical assumptions made about archaeological material that still bedevils much popular literature on the subject; the interconnectedness of northern Europe with the rest of the continent — as well as with the Islamic east and the Byzantine world — is consistently stressed.

Indeed, suspicion builds that this argument is employed as a methodological sleight of hand that enables Stephenson to avoid gaps in his research by basing broad-brush conclusions on the pan-European and especially Anglo-Saxon evidence with which he is more familiar. References to other works are included here albeit unsystematically: references are implied e.

More illustrations would have been helpful-especially in the description of sword lengths and pommel shapes.

What made the Vikings so superior in warfare?

Some specialist terms are also left unexplained and un-illustrated e. The short answer is that Viking warfare begins within Western warfare. Suffice it to say that these ideas are far less accepted or acceptable than his presentation of them implies. It was formerly thought that they were barracks prepared for an attack on England. But their date suggests rather that they were royal defensive and administrative centres, possibly built by Harald Bluetooth to unify the country at a time of conflict with the German Empire.

They appear to have lasted for only 30 years or so. The main offensive weapons were the spear, sword and battle-axe, although bows and arrows and other missiles were also used.

Viking warfare - HistoryExtra

Weapons were carried not just for battle, but also as symbols of their owners' status and wealth. They were therefore often finely decorated with inlays, twisted wire and other adornments in silver, copper and bronze. The spear was the commonest weapon with an iron blade on a wooden shaft, often of ash and 2 to 3m in length.

It was used for both thrusting and throwing. The blades varied in shape from broad leaf shapes to long spikes. Skilled spearsmen are said to have been able to throw two spears at once using both hands, or even to catch a spear in flight and hurl it back with deadly effect. Swords were very costly to make, and a sign of high status.


The blades were usually double-edged and up to 90cm, or a little over, in length, but early single-edged sabres are also known. They were worn in leather-bound wooden scabbards. Early blades were pattern-welded, a technique in which strips of wrought iron and mild steel were twisted and forged together, with the addition of a hardened edge. Viking craftsmen often added their own elaborately decorated hilts, and many swords were given names, such as Leg-biter and Gold-hilt. Long-handled battle-axes might be used instead of swords, particularly in open combat.

The famed, double-handed broad axe is a late development, typical of the late 10th and 11th centuries. But as the owner could not hold a shield at the same time, he would take cover behind the front line of warriors, rushing out at the right moment to hew down the enemy. They were made of wooden boards and had a central hole for an iron hand-grip, which was riveted to the back of the boards. A domed iron boss was fitted over the hole to protect the hand.

Viking shields were probably leather covered, with a rim binding also of leather, or metal in some cases. The Viking sagas - mostly composed in Iceland in the 13th century - show that they could have been painted with simple patterns, as in the case of those found in the Gokstad ship, or even possibly with mythological scenes and heroes. Around , the continental, kite-shaped shield was introduced, which gave more protection for the legs. The sagas also mention 'byrnies' - long tunics of mail armour reaching below the waist - but surviving examples are rare.

The mail consisted of interlocking rings with overlapping ends, formed by coiling an iron wire around a rod and then snipping it along the length of the rod. It took many hours to produce a mail shirt, making it very expensive, so they were probably worn mainly by the leaders. It was essential to wear thick padding underneath to absorb the force of sword blows or arrow strikes.

Reindeer hide is said to have been used as armour, too, and was reputedly more effective even than mail. Plate armour was not employed, but scale or lamellar armour may occasionally have been obtained from the East, as pieces have been found at the site of Birka, in Sweden. Helmets were likewise probably worn only by the leading men, although the horned helmet is a modern myth!

Helmets required considerable skill to produce: an example of the tenth century from a man's grave at Gjermundbu, Norway, has a spectacles-like visor, an iron dome consisting of four sections with a spike on the crown, and possibly a mail neck-guard.

Caps of hide may have been commonly worn, but have not survived. Swordsmen in berserk stance, biting the rims of their shields; warders from the Isle of Lewis chess-set. They did not fight in regular formations, although the bonds of loyalty between men and their lords would have given their armies some cohesion.