A bearded axe, or Skeggöx (from Old Norse Skegg, beard + öx, axe) refers to various axes, used as a tool and weapon, as early as the 6th century AD. It is most commonly associated with Viking AgeScandinavians. The lower portion of an axe bit is called the "beard" and the cutting edge of the bearded axe extends below the width of the butt to provide a wide cutting surface while keeping the overall weight of the axe low. The hook, or "beard" of the axe would have also been useful in battle, to hook onto things, such as shields or weapons, to pull them out of the defender's grasp.
Modern Japanese bearded axe, demonstrating the grip for shaving wood
Additionally this design allows the user to grip the haft directly behind the head for planing or shaving wood.
Variations of this design are still in use by modern woodworkers and some foresters.