agricultural tools/weapons

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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agricultural tools/weapons

Postby nathan on Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:56 pm

just wondering really what viking tools there were that could have been adapted to make weapons. the obvious examples are the axe and adz but was there any others that would have been used?
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby Dave Mooney on Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:36 am

Usually only societies that are having their weapons suppressed convert agricultural tools into weapons; 1798, Pikes; Japanese Nunchaku (rice flail), Falls road, half a red brick etc.

I can't think of anything from the Viking era being converted to a weapon. Used as one perhaps, nearly anything can be employed as some form of weapon.

There can be big differences in working axes and fighting axes. Throwing axes etc.

In later medieval you get Bill Hooks having spear heads and spikes being welded on and put on poles and issued as a weapon.
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby nathan on Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:49 pm

yes but in a fyrd style army surely there would be a number of conscript soldiers/farmers who did not own a weapon. and in later medieval texts such as paulus hector mairs fechtbucht he has a number of sections on the wheat thrashing flail scythe and sickle.
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby Dave Mooney on Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:02 am

There is a world of difference between the 16th Century and Viking world, which your question was based on. One can't retro fit 16th Century manuscripts to the Early Historic eras, the social and political landscapes were totally different.

You're looking at the difference between a (more) 'Warrior/Hero' culture and one where the fighters are professional soldiers only and the yokles get obligated into fighting without any real investment in armament. From the Norman era onwards you're looking at attempts to control weapons at a local level.

In the early historic/Viking era every household would likely have spears about the place as it was part of the culture to do so. If you had some money then swords also. Fighting was on a more local level then with minor kingdoms buffeting off each other all the time. As armies became more organised there was likely a reduction in weapons, and training, outside the army so when obligated to get involved the farmers had to improvise. I've just not heard of any being used in Viking context.

The Norse were brought to arms at what 5 or 6? and training from then onwards. Their rich warrior culture would ensure that all had arms to reach for in times of strife. (In the Gael culture also)

From the times of the major Viking colonies onwards battles are getting bigger as the territories get bigger then you slide into invasion and civil war level disputes which involve/drag in everyone so you'd see a lot more agricultural stuff at the fight.

I have no doubt that farmers would defend their homestead with whatever came to hand but I do think that they would sort themselves with traditional weapons if going to battle/campaign proper.

It depends what angle you're looking at this from. It wasn't just a pile of Norse farmers with pitch forks jumped a boat to here, they came (some way ) prepared.

Your opening question of "...what viking tools... could have been adapted to make weapons?" is a doozy as the answer is 'Any!'.
The real question is 'Were they?'
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby nathan on Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:03 pm

ok good point on the were they used thats my real question. i understand the differences between time periods etc as the outlawing of weapons is why so many manuals have the dusack in them even some fight schools were not allowed own any and viking age most people bar slaves could own a weapon.
i realize the large number of farmers had spears for hunting and so on the question i pose though is not did a viking army use them as they were mainly professional warrior bodies it is did a fyrd style army such as the conscripts of king Alfred during the viking invasions have to use them. for example the rapid transformation in axe design from tool to weapon occurred over this time period so the need for cheap weapons from household tools surely indicates some were perhaps used.
i guess there is only two ways for this idea to be proven real 1. a battle site is found with such weapons in someones hand or 2. a clear picture and account are found which i know of neither from this period.
well is still interesting to wonder but i suppose the spear is much better than many possible agricultural tools for any battle.
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby Billy on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:12 am

This lad is two tools in one, but not sure if it was ever used as a weapon. Would defo do you a damage if you got a belt about the head with it.

http://www.limerick.ie/WebApps/Museum/m ... RowID=6852
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby nathan on Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:29 pm

ah just wrote a giant piece on this which failed to send. not sure if i should move this to a different section but here goes. i came across two interesting tools. forgive the names but they are the the irish hook and irish slasher the irish equivalent of sickle and scythe. the slasher looks a bit like a falx/bill hook. what im wondering is when where these tools around i know during this period weapons were easy enough to get but in later periods or even this these might make useful weapons if others were not available or outlawed etc so does anyone have any ideas on the background of these weapons? i realize that these are also not really battlefield weapons but more self defense last resort ones. although the possibility of battle use is there its not too likely as pointed out earlier. really what im asking for is does anyone know the history in Ireland of these tools?
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Re: agricultural tools/weapons

Postby panda on Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:21 am

Early Irish Farming (Fergus Kelly) mentions something about bill hooks I'm fairly sure. Don't have it to hand at the moment so can't double check.
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