Bearded Axe - AH3934

Bearded Axe

Overall Length: 24'' Blade: 4 3/8''

No Longer Available
1 lb 15.1 oz

Though commonly depicted as an uncouth weapon with the weight and maneuverability of an I-beam, the axe is actually a far more sophisticated weapon than its brutish appearance suggests. Some of the confusion may be because most people are more familiar with utility axes intended for wood chopping and deconstruction. These axes are heavily built, with large wedge-shaped heads intended to both split and bludgeon static objects and have no attention paid to overall balance, as maneuverability is not needed for a working axe.

An axe built to chop men, not trees, is very different - for unlike trees, men fight back! A war axe shaves much weight with a thinner axe head and a well-crafted one may be hafted with overall balance in mind - making it quicker in the strike and on the recovery. This loss of mass in the axe head is compensated by the fact that men are not as sturdy as trees.

Axes such as the bearded axe of the dark ages are designed to maximize the size of the wound caused by the strike without greatly adding to the weight. This is done by extending the thinner blade bit and edge while not adding to the thicker part of the head near the haft. This creates an axe that bites both widely and deeply with a mix of cleaving and concussive force, whilst remaining relatively lightweight. Enough mass and heft to do the damage, but not so much as to greatly imbalance the weapon.

The war axe of the Viking age came in a wide variety of axe heads and shaft lengths - all of the deadly. One of the iconic types is the bearded axe and some insight shows why it was popular. In skilled hands the beard of the axe can be used like a hook for a variety of purposes. It could be used to catch a shield-edge and to pull it away, or to snag a man’s leg or neck and pull him to the ground. Longer-handled axes could be used to hook onto a palisade wall, and a warrior could hoist himself up and over a fortification. It is a surprisingly quick and sophisticated weapon when in the grip of a cunning hand.

Axes with a haft length such of this example could be a backup weapon hidden in the left hand behind a shield, ready to be quickly shipped to the right hand for a surprise strike against a foe who may wrongly think him disarmed in the midst of the fight. In a pinch it could be thrown as seen in one of the Icelandic Sagas, the Harđar saga og Hólmverja. Depicted there is a combat whereby one axe-armed warrior was pierced through with a spear and unable to close the distance for a strike. In desperation, he vengefully hurled his axe at the spearman, killing him before succumbing to his own spear wound.

This bearded axe has a thick, unsharpened steel head of high carbon steel. It is affixed to a stained wooden shaft.

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