Combat spears of the early medieval period often had long blades and in many cases lugs extending from the socket. The spears are sometimes referred to as hewing spears, though, the translation of that from the nordic texts that describe them may lack something in accuracy. These light and wicked weapons where used in combat with finesse that allowed them to be recognized as one of the most effective hand to hand weapons ever made.
Their reach advantage is obvious and one of their principle strengths is allowing the combatant to work from an extended rage giving time to perceive and react to attacks that the distance of sword combat does not provide.
The lugged spear allows the use of these extensions to parry and catch the opponent's weapon. The control of the center of the fight is the crucial element in spear on spear combat and these additional surfaces provide more coverage and control when the weapons enter the bind.
Spears are one of the earliest form of weapons devised by humans and we see them throughout history but the long fighting spears of the norse seem to have been reviered by their owners with exceptional zeal. Some of the kennings used to describe them are exceptional. One of my favorites is "Grey Rainbow of Odin". Some of the historically famous pieces from the sagas where said to sing when lifted for battle.
Long Lugged hewing spear ~26 " long
Lugged combat spear ~ 16"
In our video we look at these spears in detail and discuss how they would have been used and the advantages gained by being armed with a spear.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.