Today, Vikings are known mostly for their ferocity as barbaric raiders who lived to loot, pillage, and burn. They were formidable adversaries whose merciless forays into Europe gave rise to a special prayer for deliverance among their victims. They not only plundered and murdered victims, but they also raped and enslaved survivors.
The Vikings were also phenomenal engineers. Their inventions and innovations gave them an edge in battle, trade, and other pursuits, enabling them to sail across oceans, seas, and inland rivers.
Although many of their technological marvels were related to battle, some of their inventions and innovations revolutionized sailing and navigation. Others were useful for personal and military travel through harsh environments or bivouacking in cold, rugged terrain. One of their inventions reflects their personal vanity and sense of self.
Each of these 10 amazing Viking inventions and innovations reflects the true nature of the Norsemen as much as their prowess in battle, their piratical practices, and their daring seamanship. They show another forgotten or neglected side of the medieval Scandinavian character.
Although early Viking battle-axes were simply axes used to chop wood, this tool was modified over the years and became a battle-axe unique among medieval warriors. The blade became larger and broader. A hook was added to the lower end of the blade. In battle, the hook could be used to catch an enemy by the foot or the rim of his shield. The axe handle became longer, allowing Vikings to strike their foes from a greater distance.
Well-balanced weapons, the battle-axes were easy to use and effective in inflicting wounds or causing deaths. Although some Viking stories include scenes in which the axes are used as throwing weapons, such a tactic was seldom, if ever, used in battle. However, it might be employed in retaliation for injury.