This particular battle-axe displayed at the museum of London is 225 millimeters high and the blade is 240 millimeters long. The center of the object is four millimeters thick. It is made out of copper alloy and iron. It is from the Saxo-Norman era and dates to roughly the early eleventh century.
The medieval battle-axe was a weapon made by a blacksmith. The battle-axe was made of iron, steel, sometimes bronze, and also wood (for its handle). The first stone axes were produced in 6,000 B.C.E. The Romans used the battle-axe. Roman infantry soldiers used a weapon, the pilum. The pilum was a heavy spear, used for thrusting or throwing. The iron head was leaf-shaped and two to three feet long. It was on a wooden shaft with a short iron spike at the rear. The axe head was about seven inches high and it has been estimated that the handles were about sixteen inches. Barbarian axes were made from a single piece of iron, the upper head was S-shaped, the lower edge of the blade had a simple elbow, the lower part of the head swung strongly to the handle, and the upper edge of the blade formed into a point or wounded. Battle-axes came from the Viking age. The throwing axe was very important to the barbarians until the seventh century, when fewer barbarians were able to skillfully throw them than there were skillful archers. The handheld axe was still a favored weapon throughout the rest of the Middle Ages. It was powerful enough to significantly injure a knight in his armor.
The battle-axe was pictured on the eleventh-century Bayeux Tapestry. The Tapestry shows the Norman mounted knights fighting the Anglo-Saxon infantrymen. Battle-axes were popular through the eleventh century to the fourteenth century. Robert I of Scotland used a battle-axe to defeat Sir Henry de Bohun in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The battle-axes used in medieval Europe had thicker blades and the end of the blade had an opening for a wooden handle to be attached into it. There was metal on the wooden handle to prevent it from being harmed and wrecked during combat. Sometimes the axe was engraved with different designs.
Between the 1100 and 1400s the battle-axes were replaced in Europe by swords. However, Richard I of England used a battle-axe to save the Templars from defeat at the hands of the Muslim cavalry.
In the 1920s there were many battle-axes found during the building works at the north end of the London Bridge. There were many battles that took place along the Thames River and the London Bridge. The bridge was once pulled down. The battle axes found might have been lost in battle or even thrown into the river by the victors of the battles, for celebratory purposes. Most historians have been debating if there was a Viking attack on the London Bridge led by Olaf Haraldsson. There was an eleventh-century Viking battle-axe with an ornamented socket found in the Thames river near the London bridge that archeologists have taken to mean a battle did take place there.
The medieval battle-axe was used as a close-combat weapon in the early medieval period. The battle-axe was used for many centuries by different cultures. It was a key element in some major medieval battles.
- Ashley Schilling