types of battle axes

Battle Axes: The Different Types and Their Uses

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on battle axes! In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of battle axes, including the various types of battle axes, their historical origins, and the diverse ways they have been used throughout history. This guide is perfect for history buffs, weapon enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the evolution of warfare.

Key Takeaways

  • Battle axes have a rich history dating back to ancient times.
  • There are different types of battle axes, including one-handed and two-handed axes.
  • Battle axes were primarily used as weapons of war but have found modern-day recreational uses.
  • Each region and culture had unique variations of battle axes.
  • Understanding battle axes provides insight into the evolution of warfare across cultures and time periods.

Understanding Battle Axes: An Introduction

Battle axes have been an essential weapon in human history, but what defines a battle axe? A battle axe is a type of melee weapon that is primarily designed for use in combat. It consists of a blade, which is usually made of metal and attached to a wooden handle. The blade may be single-edged or double-edged, and the handle may be long or short.

While battle axes were primarily used in warfare, they also had other purposes. One of the uses was for ceremonial purposes or as a symbol of power. Battle axes were also used for hunting, particularly in the medieval period.

The design of battle axes evolved over time, with different regions and cultures developing their own unique styles. One of the most recognizable features of a battle axe is its shape, which is typically long and narrow. This shape allows for greater control and precision during battle, making it easier to strike specific targets.

In conclusion, battle axes are a fascinating weapon with a rich history. While they may no longer be used for warfare, they continue to hold a significant place in human culture as a symbol of power and strength. By understanding the definition and purpose of battle axes, we can appreciate their significance in shaping human history.

Ancient Battle Axes: Origins and Evolution

Battle axes have a long and fascinating history that can be traced back to prehistoric times. In ancient civilizations, battle axes were used as versatile, multi-purpose tools for farming, hunting, and warfare.

As civilizations evolved, so did the design of battle axes. Ancient battle axes were typically made of stone, with a blade that was sharpened on both sides. Over time, materials such as copper, bronze, and iron were used to create stronger and more durable battle axes.

Ancient battle axes were used in a variety of ways, including close combat, throwing, and even as a means of execution. In some cultures, such as the Vikings, battle axes were a symbol of status and were often adorned with intricate carvings and designs.

During the Middle Ages, battle axes became more specialized and were designed to be used specifically in warfare. Double-headed battle axes were created, allowing warriors to strike with both sides of the blade, while other battle axes were designed to be used with one hand, allowing for greater agility and maneuverability in battle.

Today, ancient battle axes are highly prized by historians and collectors, providing a glimpse into the past and the evolution of warfare. They are a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our ancestors and the critical role that battle axes played in shaping our history.

One-Handed Battle Axes: Versatile Weapons

One-handed battle axes were incredibly versatile weapons that could be used in a variety of ways on the battlefield. One of their biggest advantages was their maneuverability, as they could be easily wielded with one hand, leaving the other free for a shield or another weapon.

The design of one-handed battle axes varied depending on their intended use. Some were designed for throwing, with a lighter, more balanced head, while others were designed for close combat, with a heavier head and longer handle for greater power and reach.

Single-handed battle axes also had a unique aesthetic, with many featuring elaborate decoration and designs that reflected the culture and region they came from. For example, some Viking battle axes had intricate designs that were meant to invoke fear in their enemies, while others had intricate knotwork to symbolize strength and unity.

Overall, one-handed battle axes were a valuable addition to any warrior’s arsenal, offering both versatility and striking power in a compact package.

Two-Handed Battle Axes: A Display of Power

If you thought one-handed battle axes were impressive, wait until you see the two-handed varieties. These axes were longer, heavier, and required both hands to wield, making them an excellent display of strength and power on the battlefield.

The most iconic feature of two-handed battle axes was their double-headed design. This unique feature allowed warriors to strike from both sides, increasing the likelihood of a fatal blow. Some two-handed battle axes even had extended handles, providing additional leverage and swing power.

While two-handed battle axes were popular in medieval Europe, they were also used in other regions, such as Central Asia, during the Middle Ages. In these areas, two-handed battle axes were known as tabarzin, and featured a distinctive spike on the back of the head, which could be used to pierce armor.

Two-Handed Battle Axes in Action

As the name suggests, two-handed battle axes were designed for battle, and were used by warriors in close combat situations. These axes were particularly effective against heavily armored opponents, as the weight of the axe head provided enough force to break through the armor.

In addition to their use in battle, two-handed battle axes were also used in ceremonial settings. For example, in medieval Europe, knights would carry ornate two-handed battle axes during parades and jousts, showcasing their wealth and status.

Types of Two-Handed Battle Axes

Two-handed battle axes came in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the region and time period in which they were used. Some of the most common types include:

Type of Two-Handed Battle Axe Description
Dane Axe A long-handled axe with a broad, curved blade, used by the Vikings during the Middle Ages.
Swiss Halberd A type of polearm with an axe head, spike, and spear point, used by Swiss soldiers during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Chinese Hook Sword A dual-purpose weapon consisting of an axe blade and a hook, used by Chinese martial artists during the Qing Dynasty.

These are just a few examples of the incredible variety of two-handed battle axes used throughout history.

As you can see, two-handed battle axes were an impressive weapon that required skill and strength to wield effectively. Their unique design and formidable force made them a symbol of power on the medieval battlefield, and they continue to captivate us today.

Viking Battle Axes: Fearsome Weapons of the Norsemen

Viking battle axes were the epitome of Norse weaponry and played a crucial role in Viking warfare. The Vikings were feared for their ferocity and the battle axe was a symbol of their power. These axes were designed for maximum impact with a heavy head and long handle, providing the warriors with both reach and leverage.

The Norsemen had a deep connection with their battle axes, often giving them names and treating them as if they were alive. The design of Viking battle axes was intricate, with unique features such as the beard, a protrusion at the bottom of the blade, and the long, curved handle.

The axehead was usually made of iron and was shaped like a wedge, with a sharp and curved blade at the top. The handle was made of wood, usually ash or oak, which was both durable and flexible. The axehead was secured to the handle with a metal wedge, providing a sturdy grip for the warrior.

Viking battle axes were versatile weapons that could be used for various purposes such as cleaving shields, helmets, and armor. The axehead could also be used for hooking onto an opponent’s armor or shield and pulling them off balance, giving the Viking warrior an advantage in combat.

The cultural significance of the Viking battle axe extended beyond its use as a weapon. It was also a symbol of power and status, with the most ornate and well-crafted axes being reserved for the most highly respected warriors.

“The axe is the most indispensable of all weapons,” -Viking Proverb

The Viking battle axe remains an iconic image of Norse culture and is often depicted in popular media such as movies, books, and video games. Its unique design and cultural significance have endured the test of time, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable weapons in history.

Battle Axe Variations by Region and Culture

Battle axes are versatile weapons that have been adapted to suit the needs and preferences of different civilizations. The unique designs of battle axes are a reflection of their cultural significance and offer insight into the traditions and values of the people who wielded them.

Scandinavian Battle Axes

Viking battle axes were built for speed and power, with a single sharp blade and a long wooden handle. The design of the Viking battle axe was optimized for quick, precise strikes, making it an efficient weapon for close quarters combat. Norse battle axes were often engraved with intricate patterns and symbols, reflecting the importance of art and craftsmanship in Nordic culture.

Asian Battle Axes

In contrast to the simple design of Viking battle axes, Asian battle axes were often ornate and richly decorated. The Chinese poleaxe, for example, featured a large, curved blade and a spike at the top of the handle. This weapon was used by the Chinese military during the Song Dynasty and served as a symbol of rank and authority.

African Battle Axes

The African battle axe was typically shorter and more lightweight than its European and Asian counterparts, making it easier to wield with speed and agility. The Tuareg people of North Africa used a unique T-shaped battle axe that was designed for both combat and everyday use, such as chopping wood.

Pacific Islander Battle Axes

Many Pacific Islander cultures developed their own variations of the battle axe, which were typically made from materials like bone, shell, and stone. These battle axes were often used in ceremonial contexts, such as during dances and rituals, and were an important symbol of strength and status within the community.

Native American Battle Axes

Native American battle axes were often made from materials found in the natural environment, such as stone and wood. These weapons were used in a variety of settings, from hunting to warfare, and were often decorated with intricate patterns and designs that reflected the spiritual beliefs of the indigenous peoples.


Battle axes have taken many forms throughout history, each design reflecting the unique traditions and values of the cultures that wielded them. From the Viking battle axe to the African T-shaped axe, these weapons have played an important role in shaping the course of human history and continue to fascinate us with their rich cultural significance.

Modern Battle Axes: From Warfare to Recreation

While battle axes were once primarily used in warfare, they have found a new purpose in modern times as recreational weapons and symbolic items. Today, battle axes are often used in reenactments, medieval-themed events, and even as part of survival kits.

One popular type of modern battle axe is the throwing axe, which is designed specifically for recreational use. These axes are typically lighter and smaller than traditional battle axes, making them easier to throw accurately. They are often made of durable materials such as carbon steel or titanium, and may feature a sharp blade on one side and a blunt edge on the other for safe handling.

Another modern use for battle axes is as decorative pieces. Some people enjoy collecting antique or replica battle axes for their ornate designs and historical significance. Others may display battle axes as part of their home decor or use them as props in theatrical performances.

Overall, modern battle axes have evolved from deadly weapons of war to versatile tools for recreation, decoration, and self-expression.


Battle axes have captured the imagination of warriors and historians for centuries, and it’s not hard to see why. From their ancient origins to their modern recreational applications, battle axes have played a significant role in shaping warfare and culture.

Looking Back

By exploring the different types and uses of battle axes, we gain a deeper appreciation for their historical significance. We learned about the origins of battle axes and how they evolved over time. We examined the versatility and power of one-handed and two-handed battle axes, the fearsome reputation of Viking battle axes, and the variations in design and purpose across different cultures.

Looking Forward

Even though battle axes are no longer primarily used in warfare, they continue to hold a place in our cultural consciousness. Today, battle axes are enjoyed as recreational weapons or as symbolic items. Collectors appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of antique battle axes, while others enjoy the thrill of throwing or using modern replicas.

If you’re interested in learning more about battle axes, there are plenty of resources available online or at your local library. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll find yourself wielding a battle axe, whether in combat or for sport!


Q: What are the different types of battle axes?

A: Battle axes come in various types, including one-handed battle axes, two-handed battle axes, Viking battle axes, and more. Each type has its own unique design and purpose.

Q: What are the origins of battle axes?

A: Battle axes have a rich history that dates back to ancient times. They were used by civilizations such as the Vikings, ancient Egyptians, and medieval knights.

Q: How were battle axes used throughout history?

A: Battle axes were utilized in warfare for different purposes, such as close combat, siege warfare, and horseback combat. They were also symbols of power and status.

Q: What is the difference between one-handed and two-handed battle axes?

A: One-handed battle axes were designed for versatility and maneuverability, while two-handed battle axes required more strength and were known for their double-headed design.

Q: What makes Viking battle axes unique?

A: Viking battle axes had distinctive features, such as a long handle and a bearded blade. They were known for their effectiveness in combat and held cultural significance for Norse warriors.

Q: How do battle axes vary across different cultures?

A: Battle axes varied in design and purpose across different regions and cultures. For example, the ancient Egyptians had ceremonial battle axes, while the Celts had axes with intricate carvings.

Q: Are battle axes still used today?

A: While battle axes are no longer primarily used in warfare, they have found a place in modern times as recreational weapons, collectibles, and symbolic items.

Q: What is the conclusion about battle axes?

A: Battle axes have a storied past and continue to captivate us with their historical significance and unique designs. By exploring the different types and uses of battle axes, we gain a deeper understanding of their role in shaping warfare throughout history.