THE VIKING SAX by Tyr Neilsen

The Viking Sax is a rugged sharp edged weapon that was commonly used in the Viking Age. In the Icelandic Sagas, the Old Norse name Sax referred to this weapon that ranged from long knife to short sword. 

The Viking sax had one very sharp edge to its blade, and a thick, solid, blunt edge (or back). Some of these blunt edges were slightly curved, or were straight for the most part, then angled towards the tip. This type of sax was often called a broken-back sax. Other sax blades have a mild curve to the point on both sides of the blade.

This mean, one-handed, single edged cutting weapon, had no crossguard. It's sharp tipped blade ranged in length from 30 to 70 cm (12 – 28 in), was usually about 8mm thick (0.3 in), and was often simply made, with hilts of wood, bone or horn and simple fittings.

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The Viking sax is usually carried in a sheath, or scabbard, that hangs at a slight angle, horizontally from a belt. This angle prevents the sax from sliding accidentally out of the scabbard. It is carried mostly sharp edge up, so that the blade doesn’t cut through the scabbard. 

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Depending on its length, the Viking sax was also referred to by different names. The shortest sax is called simply sax or short sax. The narrow sax has a longer narrow blade. Other names are scramsax, höggsax, handsax, broadsax and langsax (long-sax).  

The light broad sax has a larger blade, and the heavy broad sax has an even broader, longer and heavier blade. The narrow long sax has a long, narrow blade, and looks like a short sword. The long sax blade is 50 cm and over and looks like a sword. It sometimes has fullers, grooves, pattern welded blades, and even inlays of brass, copper or silver.

In peacetime, the Viking sax was as an everyday machete-like tool that was useful in the forest, wood working, farm-work, hunting, skinning wild animals and preparation of food. In a time of conflict or war, the Viking sax was a rugged and deadly weapon that served well in combat and on the battlefield. According to the Icelandic Sagas, some Vikings even preferred the sax over a sword for fighting.

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