Secrets of the Dead

S18 E4 | CLIP

The Warrior Behind the Weapons

From axes to spears, a swordsmith shares what he's learned about the warrior behind the weapon after careful studies.

AIRED: July 07, 2020 | 0:02:19
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TRANSCRIPT

(dramatic music)

- [Narrator] It is a veritable arsenal.

There's a war ax, a combat knife,

two spears of different types, two shields,

no fewer than 25 arrowheads

and, of course, a sword.

Close study of these weapons tells

when and where they were made

and possibly more about the person buried with them.

- We are fascinated by weapons today

just because of the fact that they are power objects.

If you can look at them the right way,

you can learn things about the people

who owned them and used them

and also about the people who made them.

They tell you fascinating stories.

- [Narrator] Viking weapons were much feared,

particularly the ax.

- [Peter] The Norsemen were ax people.

They were famous for their skill in the use of the ax.

(dramatic music)

This is a very swift and devastating weapon,

specially made for fighting.

This is a weapon to kill an opponent in a single blow.

- [Narrator] The two spears found in the grave indicate

how popular they were in the Middle Ages

and how effective.

- [Peter] The spear is the weapon of choice

of the god Odin who is the god of war.

These are not for throwing.

These are for close-quarter fighting.

It's a weapon for the battlefield.

- [Narrator] Spears were also less expensive to produce

which meant warriors could afford to equip themselves fully.

It's possible the weapons were simply decorative,

never taken to battle

but analysis shows a trained warrior used them.

They were not ceremonial.

A swordsman or woman was much respected

in Viking communities.

- The sword has its position

because it being expensive and connected

to people with wealth and influence

but also because it's a uniquely efficient, personal weapon.

So owning a sword was also making a point,

that you belonged to an elite in society.

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