Norman fighting equipment

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The fighting equipment of Normans is drawn from recovered artefacts and pictorial and other depictions of the Normans. This guide roughly begins in the 11th century and moves into the 12th century.


Equipment

Arms

  • spear - sometimes with wings and generally socketed. Some were light enough to be easily thrown.
  • axe - common household tool sometimes with pronounced beard.
  • saex – knife may have been hung vertically, but one man appears to be drawing an object (possibly a saex) from a horizontal back sheath.
  • sword - single handed weapon with straight crossguard. Blade could be pattern welded, would have a rounded tip and the blade would usually be no longer than 76 cm (30 inches). Pommel typically of brazil nut kind. Hilt small only just large enough to accommodate an average sized modern hand. Only used by the wealthy.
  • Dane axe - large axe designed for use with two hands. Likely only used by the wealthiest of warriors and only in good quaility armour
  • longbow - of yew, with side nock on the upper limb which could have an odd bent section. Lower limb tied to string. Crossbows are known but not depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry possibly being limited to hunting uses only.
  • arrows with tanged heads and self nocks. Eagle feather flights bound onto the shaft in a spiral pattern.

Armour

  • none
  • padded armour (gambeson or aketon) - conjectural with no known examples surviving
  • mail – forearm length sleeves and extending to the knees with a split in both the front and back. Has integral coif of mail possibly with integral ventail.

Composed of alternating rows of punched/welded links (roughly rectangular or flattened round section) and riveted (roundish drawn wire) of approximately 1.2 to 1.5 mm diameter with an internal diameter of 5-6mm internal diameter for the rings. Wealthy only.

Clothing

Misconceptions

  • two handed swords - not known
  • double bitted axes - not known
  • swords with dragons
  • swords with circular pommels
  • swords with elaborate basket-style hand guards
  • swords with very heavy, blunt blades.
  • greaves - not known
  • vambraces - not known
  • gauntlets - not known
  • furry vests - not known
  • furry ugg-boot style shoes - not known