Did Vikings Use Recurve Bows?

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The Vikings are renowned as some of the most fierce and formidable historical warriors.

These Scandinavian people are known for pirating and pillaging across the world.

To do this, the Vikings required considerable strength and battle prowess. They would need to use incredible weapons and tactics.

What kinds of weapons did the Vikings use? Did they use bows? Continue readings to discover the answers.

Who Were The Vikings?

The term “Viking” refers to a group of people who originated from Scandinavia.

Starting from the 8th century, Vikings traveled across the globe. They brutally invaded and raided European towns.

Did The Vikings Use Recurve Bows?

Vikings certainly use bows in their battles. However, they are believed to have used longbows as opposed to recurve bows.

There is some evidence that Vikings used bows that are similar to recurve bows. These bows had a similar shape to a recurve bow in that the ends of the limbs curved.

Despite this, longbows were more popular. Moreover, this was not usually their archery weapon of choice.

Though Vikings used longbows, they were used primarily for hunting.

Bows would be used by some warriors in battle, but the majority of Vikings seemingly opted for spears and swords.

Modern researchers have determined this because arrowheads were seldom found buried alongside the bodies of deceased Vikings, suggesting that they were not widely used in warfare.

When it came to naval warfare, this was an arena in which the Vikings would use bows and arrows.

These bows would be targeted at rival ships, which would weaken them.

Consequently, the ships could be boarded by the Vikings, who would claim them as their own.

Viking bows could be made from a number of different materials, including wood and bone. Elm and yew were particularly popular materials for Viking bows.

Meanwhile, the arrowheads were built from iron, which was regularly used in Viking weaponry. The design of the bow itself would have been fairly basic.

They would be at least 60 inches tall. A surviving sample of a bow is 74 inches tall.

Like modern longbows, the ones used by Vikings were likely a similar height to the user.

While the majority of evidence points at longbows being the preferred bow for Vikings, there is some proof that recurve bows were also used.

It is likely that the Vikings adopted recurve bows after stealing them from Asia and other parts of Europe, in which these bows were routinely used.

Recurve bows would be beneficial in situations that called for a shorter bow, such as when used on horseback.

Did The Vikings Use Archery?

Did The Vikings Use Archery?

Yes, many Vikings were skilled archers. Whether they were trained for hunting or battle, it was important for Vikings to be honed archers.

Successful Viking archers were immortalized in the form of songs. Several sagas originating from the Middle Ages tell tales of Vikings using bows and arrows.

What Other Weapons Did They Use?

Traditional Weapons

Aside from bows, Vikings would use axes, spears, lances, and swords. These weapons would be accompanied by a shield, which was used for added defense.

When a Viking passed away they would be buried with their weapons, primarily their swords. This was because Viking culture celebrated battle prowess.

Usually, Viking swords and other weapons were constructed from iron and other metals, such as silver.

A particular style of axe, known as the bearded axe, is associated with the Vikings.

This anime refers to the appearance of the axe, which has a large hook that is comparable to a beard. This gives the weapon a large blade and space for cutting.

These bearded axes were not just used in battle, but also for woodworking.


Vikings would wear suits of armor to give themselves more protection in battle. They primarily wore chain mail and helmets.

While Vikings are often portrayed as wearing horned helmets in culture and the media, this is believed to be a myth.

Vikings wore helmets for protection. They were not decorative and instead used to protect the brain. Thus, Vikings had no use for horns on their helmets.


Famously, Vikings also used warships. This would help them invade other places. These ships would be built from wood, such as oak.

In terms of design, Viking warships were usually long and thin. To prevent water from entering the vessels, they were coated with fur and wool.

These boats needed to be strong to carry all of the combat equipment, such as swords, shields, and armor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Did Vikings Use Flaming Arrows?

Yes, it is believed that the Vikings would light their arrows on fire. This was particularly useful if they wished to cause damage to a rival town or village.

However, this tactic was not overly popular in battle.

Flaming arrows could prove to be somewhat temperamental, as the flame would be easily extinguished.

To keep the flame alive, archers would have to limit the power of the bow, which seems somewhat pointless.

Did The Ancient Romans Use Bows?

Yes. Ancient Roman archers used bows. They used composite bows, which tended to be constructed from sinew or wood.

Like the Vikings, it is thought that the Ancient Romans were not overly reliant upon bows in warfare.

That is not to say that arrows were not used in any Roman battles, it’s just that other weapons were more dominant.

Why Were The Vikings So Successful?

Part of the Viking’s success was that they were able to surprise their enemies. Thus, the villages that were being invaded had very little time to mount their defenses.

Also, they were able to move from one location to another incredibly successfully. This was likely due to their incredible warships.

Final Thoughts

Vikings were vicious warriors. While bows and arrows would have been used in their warfare, other weapons were more widely used.

It is interesting to think that Vikings would use weapons that are nowadays used recreationally, such as arrows.

This shows how far civilization has come since the 11th century, in which the Viking age ended.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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