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Bearded axe

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Iron Age bearded axe head from Gotland.

A bearded axe, or Skeggøx (from Old Norse Skegg, "beard", and øx, "axe"), is any of various axes, used as a tool and weapon, as early as the 6th century AD. It is most commonly associated with Viking Age Scandinavians. The hook or "beard", i.e. the lower portion of the axe bit extending the cutting edge below the width of the butt, provides a wide cutting surface while keeping the overall mass of the axe low.

This design allows the user to grip the haft directly behind the head for planing or shaving wood and variations of this design are still in use by modern woodworkers and some foresters. The "beard" of the axe would also have been useful in battle, for example to pull a weapon or shield out of a defender's grasp.

Through Scandinavian mercenaries fighting in the Varangian Guard, the design entered the Byzantine Empire. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the Sultan's guard adopted axes of similar design to underline their continuity with the Byzantine Empire. In the 15th century, these axes would evolve into single-handed bearded axes with a hammerhead on the head. Through Ottoman influence, these axes would spread to Poland and Hungary, where they would become known as "Czekan."

Polish Beaerded-Axe(Czekan) from the 17th.Century from"Wendelin Boeheim:"Handbook of Weaponry"
©KHM-Museumsverband Ornamented Turkisch Bearded-Axe(Czekan) of one of Sultan Mohamed III. Bodyguards

There are a number of variants in its design.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jan Petersen, "De Norske Vikingesverd", Internet Archive Org Page 38, 1919