So can you tell me please what is a sparth axe and why were they so popular with the gallowglass?
Ah yes, the sparth.
So, quite simply, Ireland is a weird place. When we’re talking about the development of arms and armor, it’s oddly distinct from the rest of Europe, especially for the fact that they never seem to adopt plate armor in any real capacity.
Light armor is the name of the game, even into the 16th century, and the Gallowglass, considered a mercenary elite, were some of the most heavily armored blokes on the field, typically only wearing a maille hauberk and a helmet of some kind (with padding beneath.)
(Hands together for Osprey illustrations.)
The sparth is suggested to be a descendant of the (in)famous Dane axe of Viking era fame. As armor in Europe develops, so too do the weapons trying to defeat that armor, so axes like the poleaxe, which is far more equipped for dealing with plate, become popular.
However, since here in Ireland you don’t have heavier armor really developing (it’s been suggested because of the nature of the Irish countryside and Irish warfare at the time) then a large, two handed axe like the sparth fills its purpose perfectly. It wreaks havoc on opponents only armored in cloth, and certainly transmits enough force to give an opponent in maille a bad time.
So we’ve established that the sparth is an effective weapon an Irish military context. The reason they are so synonymous with the gallowglass is because the weapon is so well suited to their role on the battlefield as heavy infantry. The gallowglass were a sort of flank guard, and often served to cover the escape of the other troops with the cattle they were stealing (which was the vast majority of Irish warfare.)
In this capacity putting a big, hard-hitting, intimidating weapons in the hands of your heavily armored mercenary elite seems like a pretty good plan to me. I hope this answers your question!
Norway couple find Viking grave under floor of their house
A couple in northern Norway were pulling up the floor of their house to install insulation when they found a glass bead, and then a Viking axe. Now archaeologists suspect they live above an ancient Viking grave “It wasn’t until later that we realized what it could be,” Mariann Kristiansen from Seivåg near Bodø told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK of the find. “We first thought it was the wheel of a toy car.”
Archaeologist Martinus Hauglid from Nordland county government visited the couple last Monday and judged that find was most likely a grave from the Iron Age or Viking Age.
“It was found under stones that probably represent a cairn. We found an axe dated from between 950 AD and 1050 AD and a bead of dark blue glass, also of the late Viking period,” he told The Local. Read more.
Humming, the seated skeleton sat and wait. He’d already had quite a few people buy his lemonade and one help him sell, yet as all people do, they have to leave eventually. Yet, not him, he could sit there till the sun burned out or his lemonade emptied. His eyes caught a figure running past, a frightful yell pressing from their lungs. Shrugging, he looked forward once more only to catch glance of a new figure giving chase to the first. He once again shrugged it off, not bothered for he was more focused on selling lemonade. Humming his small tune with a small sway to his song, pausing at the scuttle of leaves. His hand reaching for the axe balancing against his table, his gaze locked with two bright red pupils staring up at him. A skeleton like him, crouched beside his stand as they sniffed at the mystery liquid on the table. “…what’s that?” They asked hesitantly, looking between Axe and the lemonade. “Lemonade! 50 cents!” He exclaimed, brightly smiling to the possible customer while a look of bewilderment crossed their face. “….50….cents…?” They muttered, moving away from the stand in a slight hurry. Huffing slightly, his eyes caught onto a bright monarch butterfly of blue. Following it with his gaze while unaware to the distant screams. His attention broke as the same skeleton returned yet her clothes had been stained of red, hands covered in the same coloring. Hand held out with the palm up with coins and paperclips, looking to her hand then back up to axe. “50…cents…?” Taking the coins he counted a dime, 2 nickels, 5 pennies and a quarter. He grinned a bit happily, passing a cup of lemonade over to her while pocketing the change. Her hands clasped around the drink, crouched down on the sidewalk while they took a large gulp. Her eyesocket’s widened, looking down at the cup in her hands with a foriegn expression. Then as she looked up to him, her eyes held stars while her thin tail wagged much like a dog. “This is really good!!” She exclaimed, looking back down to the bright fluid while axe leaned over the counter with a grin. “Thanks!” Finishing her drink, she looked up to him with hopeful eyes. “Can i have another cup..?” He chuckled, tilting his head to the pitcher of lemonade. “Yeah, for 50 cents.” She huffs, looking behind her with a bit of determination. “For 50 cents…” An she was off again, to find more change or get it herself. He wasn’t sure, yet he didn’t care, patiently waiting for them to come back with more change.