Danish archaeologist Rolf Warming has been working to discover the fighting skills that Vikings in all probability must have used during battle.
Warming’s research revealed that along with using their shields to defend themselves against attacks, the shields were also an active part of fighting.
“It turns out that the Vikings may have used their shields much more actively than previously thought,” Warming told Vindenskab.dk.
Warming actually enters into ‘battle’ while wearing Viking armour and using the type of one metre shield found in archaeological finds from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Damage found on the shields could not be reconciled with the passive use previously attributed to Viking fighters.
It appears that the Vikings may have used their shields to actively fend off sword blows, and possibly use them as weapons.
Warming, pointed out that no one technique would have been used, but that the addition of more aggressive shield techniques – using it to parry enemy weapons and perhaps even to strike them – was probably a big part of their repertoire.
“When I went actively forward with the shield at both angles, it seemed almost like a weapon in itself, because both could avoid the battle, but also beat the enemy with shield edge,” he said.
Still more to know
The thin round shields were typical of the majority of the Vikings until around the year 1000, when the heavier, teardrop-shaped shields became increasingly popular.
Warming plans to continue his research into Viking fighting methods.
“I hope to get funding to conduct similar studies in which the shields are attacked with axes and arrows,” he said.