Anglo Saxon Arms & Ammunition

Below is the detailed article about Anglo Saxon weapons, shields, armours, and swords. War and weaponry was an integral part of the era. Anglo Saxon warriors fought on foot and therefore, needed a large amount of weaponry.

Basic Anglo Saxon Weaponry

anglo saxon weapons
Anglo Saxon Weapons and armour

The basic Anglo Saxon weaponry included the helmet and shields that were made of wood. They have also painted a certain colour which distinguished the different tribes. The bow and arrow were also popular weaponry easily carried by people on their backs. The slings were also used and kept handy for emergency situations.

What were Anglo-Saxon weapons made of?

Most weapons of the Anglo-Saxons were made of metals. Metals such as bronze were also used in the weapons. The helmets and the shields were also made of wood in some cases.

What did Anglo-Saxon soldiers wear?

The soldiers would wear a metallic armour during the war, beneath which they wore an undershirt made of linen and a woollen tunic. All of them were basically used to protect the body from damage.

Did Anglo-Saxons use bow and arrow?

Yes, Anglo-Saxons used the bow and arrow which were usually made of metals. They were a common weapon for the people.

Anglo-Saxon armour
Anglo-Saxon armour

Did Saxons use crossbows?

No evidence has been found to suggest that Anglo-Saxons used the crossbow, although, they might have used a different version of it.

Evidence of Anglo Saxon Weapons

In many archaeologically excavated Anglo Saxon graves, the weaponry of the people has found to be buried with them. Hence, many weapons have been excavated in this manner.

From literature context, the use of swords and spears have been mentioned in Anglo Saxon poems such as Beowulf and ‘The Battle of Meldon’. Military equipment mentioned in the literature denotes a sense of nobility amongst the Anglo Saxon people. The discovery of many words from the Old English language spoken in the Anglo Saxon era indicate the existence of these weapons.

Anglo-Saxon weapon names

Some of the common Anglo-Saxon weapons were: the spear, the axe, bow and arrow, knives and swords. The axe was the deadliest weapon used by the Anglo-Saxons and there were several types of axes. The spear was probably the most common weapon used.

Types of Anglo Saxon weapons

Spears

The spear was among the most common weaponry of the Anglo Saxon era. 85% of the weaponry excavated from graves are spears. The Old English word ‘spere’ literally refers to ‘ wood that harms’. Spears are iron ball-sized pieces mounted at the edge of a long wooden stick.

anglo-saxon-twisted-spear
An Anglo Saxon Twisted Spear

Sizes and shapes of the spears differed from tribe to tribe. It was a common piece of a weapon carried by all kinds of men for their protection and safety, even peasants and working class. They were also used by hunters for hunting where they would aim at the animal and throw the spear at them. A pieced individual would die if attacked by one as removing the spear from a penetrated body is much more difficult than piercing it in.

Swords

Archaeologists and scientists describe the sword the symbolic weapon of the Anglo Saxon era. it was the most treasured item out of all the military equipment of the Anglo Saxon world.

What were Anglo-Saxon swords made from?

It is believed that Anglo Saxon swords were double-edged flat blades attached with the holder which was usually metal.

sword
An excavated Anglo Saxon Sword Handle

The sizes of the swords were as long as 100 cms. Swords were a result of welding and highly applied craftsmanship by the people. Two flat blades were welded together after the iron was beaten into strips. Mentions of the use of swords are seen in many pieces of literature of the Anglo Saxon era especially the ‘Beowulf’.

The swords were kept suspended on a belt worn on the waist of the warriors which was a part of their entire suite. And could be taken off easily when required.

Knives

Knives were common weaponry not only used by Anglo Saxons but also by the Vikings and other north Germanic tribes of medieval Europe. It was a simple single-edged short sized sword. It was also used for domestic purposes that are cooking, cutting, chopping, etc. Therefore, the knives were of different types depending on the purpose of use.

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Kind of Knives used in the Anglo Saxon Era

Men and women, both carried a knife in the Anglo Saxon era at all times and also had them handy at home.

Axes

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A curve edged Anglo Saxon Knife

Anglo-Saxon axe facts:

Axes were small and slightly curved on the edge type of blades. Pieces of the axe have been excavated from the Anglo Saxon era. From many interpretations, it has come to the conclusion that axes were used as a tool much more than a weapon. they were used for purposes like cutting a tree or beating metal. Size of the axe depending on the length of the wood shaft.

Bow and arrow

Anglo-Saxon Bow and arrow facts:

Iron arrowheads have been excavated from the Anglo Saxon era. They were placed on bones and antlers that might have been removed from graves that existed then. In old English, the bow was called the ‘boga’. Anglo Saxon arrow heads were of three different types. One was a leaf-shaped arrowhead. The second had a bodkin point arrowhead. The third was a barbed arrowhead.

anglo-saxon-bow-arrow
A representation of an Anglo Saxon man using a bow and arrow

The bow and arrows appear more in art and literature from the Anglo Saxon era.

Anglo-Saxon shield

Anglo-Saxon shields were metallic and extremely heavy. The middle portion was called the “boss” and the surrounding part had some carvings.

Anglo-Saxon shield
Anglo-Saxon shield design

How were Saxon shields used?

Anglo-Saxon warriors would often put a covering of bronze over their shields to make them stronger. During the battles, they would make a wall of the shields and throw their spears at the enemies from behind.

Symbolic representation of Anglo Saxon weapons

There is also much symbolisation with respect to gender, religion, and tribe of the use of weapons in the Anglo Saxon era. For example, only warriors were allowed to own a sword. Every tribe had their own colours and shapes for the weapons. People that are from the working class would never be seen with swords and other harmful weaponry.

anglo saxon soldier
An Anglo Saxon Soldier representing wit and valour

 

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