The bearded axe is most commonly associated with the Vikings and was used as early as the 600AD. The design aims to increase the length of the cutting edge to a maximum whilst keeping the weight low to make the axe more manoeuvrable. This is achieved by the bottom end of the axe (the ‘beard’) extending further than the width of the butt, this allows for a longer blade.
The design had many advantages in battle; the hook shape provided by the ‘beard’ could be used to break through enemies defences by pulling down their shield or disarming them of their weapon. It would also allow the user to grip the shaft behind the blade, thus providing better defence for their hand. This technique of holding behind the blade is also useful when using the axe as a tool as it provides the user with better control for chopping up food or skinning animals.