A quest for the atgeir: the unknown Viking weapon in Icelandic sagas and archaeological data

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Abstract

Today we know much about the culture of the Viking Age, but there are still gaps to fill. One of them is what the legendary weapon called atgeirr in Icelandic sagas really was. Nowadays researchers prefer to view atgeir as a kind of spear. But the defining features of atgeir are not clearly described and the range of different kinds of spearheads suggested as related to this weapon is frustratingly wide.

This paper draws on saga material with the aim to describe essential characteristics of atgeir which differentiate it from the spear. This would allow to considerably narrow down the list of proposed candidates for the role of atgeir among archaeological finds from the Viking Age and to recognise it as a special type of weapon, just as it is referred to in Icelandic sagas

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