- Museum number
Iron axe-head with projecting spurs on either side of the head, broad neck, and markedly expanded blade. The blade is very thin, but thickens immediately behind the edge.
- Production date
Height: 33.60 millimetres
Length: 280 millimetres
Weight: 966 grammes
Width: 244 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Found in the River Thames, from which several axes of this late, broad-bladed form (Petersen Type M) have been recovered. It is a widespread type, from Normandy to Finland, which appears to be that featured in the Bayeux tapestry.
Date: Late Viking Period.
Literature: Wheeler, R. E. M. (1927): 'London and the Vikings' (London Museum Catalogues, No. 1), London, 51; Shetelig, H. (ed.) (1940): 'Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland IV', Oslo, 86; Graham-Campbell, J. A. and Kidd, D. (1980): 'The Vikings', London, pl. 63.
Catalogue entry for Die Wikinger, Speyer, Germany, Dec. 08-July 09 by Barry Ager
L. 24,5 cm, W. 28 cm
Findspot: River Thames, probably at London, England
Dating: Late 10th – 11th century
London, British Museum 1838,1-10,2
Axe-head from a double-handed battle-axe of Petersen’s type M with a very broad, convex edge, and short, triangular projections above and below either side of the socket. The thickening of the blade behind the edge indicates that the latter was formed from a strip, probably of hardened steel, which was welded into a wide groove in the end of the blade.
Contemporary illustrations such as the Bayeux Tapestry and examples of Danish and Anglo-Saxon sculpture show warriors wielding similar axes with hafts more than half the man’s height, or even reaching to the shoulder. The battle-axe was a formidable weapon, but, since the warrior was unable to hold a shield at the same time as wielding the axe, he could be left vulnerable to arrows, missiles and thrusts from spears and swords.
Graham-Campbell (1980) 74 Taf. 265
- On display (G41/dc24)
- Exhibition history
2008 14 Dec-2009 12 Jul, Germany, Speyer, Historisches Museum der Pfalz, The Vikings
1981 USA, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Vikings
1980 4 Oct-1981 4 Jan, USA, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Vikings
1980 19 Feb-20 July, London, BM, The Vikings
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number