Officers:Broad Axes

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Officer's Rulings

For axes with a cutting edge under 9" in length see Hand Axes


Military Training

Master at Arms

7.4. Broad Axes

Metric Imperial Comments
Max head size: 25.5 x 20.5cm 10” × 8” in either axis
Min head size: 15 x 10cm 6” x 4” in either axis
Max head weight: 1.36 Kg 3 lb
Min haft diameter: 4cm 1½”
Max haft length: From the ground to under the users chin

View Images of Broad Axe Types by Period
View Broad Axe Kit Guide

Warrior using a Broad axe, St. Etienne bible c.1109
  • Broadaxes appear to have come into use in this country during the late tenth century. Many were found in the River Thames and have been dated to the Great Army’s attacks on London in the 990s. Broadaxes are therefore restricted to events post 980. They continue to be in use beyond 1066.
  • Note this image from the St. Etienne bible c.1109. In particular, see the use of the back-slung shield by the axeman. * It is encouraged to use a wooden wedge as opposed to metal wedges when hafting an axe.
  • Dane axes can only be used between 980AD and 1016AD by Vikings

6. Mandatory Rulings for All Weapons

1. All weapon blades, tangs and sockets must be made from steel, iron or in the case of some maces, bronze. They must be rust and burr free and must be of good overall construction and condition.
2. All weapons edges must be no less than 2mm (1/16”) and no more than 5mm (1/5”) in thickness. In cross section, the edge may be rounded or round shouldered but must not be square edged (fig. 1). The edges of a weapon must include its cutting surface and any back edges also. This rule also applies to quillions, guards and pommels.
Fig.1 Blade Profiles
3. All spearheads must end in a 10mm (7/16”) diameter rounded swelling. This may be forged into the blade or welded to the point. Other methods of termination may be considered and will be judged on an individual basis. NOTE : “Spoon-ended” spears must not be used.
4. Any weapon with a bladed part exceeding 200mm (8”) in length must be made entirely of spring steel. (See Appendix: Notes on Spring Steel.) NOTE : The bladed part of a spear does not include the socket as the bladed part of a sword does not include the tang.
5. Any angle made by the edges of a bladed weapon that is 90° or less should be rounded to no less than an 18mm (11/16”) diameter. (i.e. the diameter of a 1999 5 pence piece). Any angle made by the edges of a bladed weapon that is greater than 90° must be rounded over (see fig. 2). This applies to all bladed weapons including spears and flanged maces.
6. Any protruding part of a weapon not covered under part 3) or 5) above must terminate in a rounded end of no less than 10mm for reenactment use.
Fig.2 Accute and Obtuse angles
7. All spear shafts, axe and mace hafts etc. must be made from a white hardwood, preferably ash. Spear shafts, axe and mace hafts must be in a good overall condition and free from splinters and cracks. NOTE : Ramin is an acceptable alternative to ash but oak must be avoided as it is heavy and shatters easily.
8. All spearheads must be securely attached to their shafts.
9. All hafted weapons (axes, maces) must be securely fixed to their hafts.
10. All swords and fighting knives must be carried in a scabbard.
11. All battle standards intended to remain on the field for the duration of the display must fulfil all of the requirements laid down for other weapons.