Langobard warriors in Hungary I. Types and combinations

Keresztes Noémi Ninetta

Hadak útján. A népvándorláskor fiatal kutatóinak XXIV. konferenciája. Esztergom, 2014. november 4–6. Conference of young scholars on the Migration Period. November 4–6, 2014, Esztergom

MŐT Kiadványok 3.1 (2015) 469–498

DOI 10.55722/Arpad.Kiad.2015.3.1_19


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A tanulmány a magyarországi langobard sírokból előkerült fegyverek osztályozásával és a fegyverkombinációkkal foglalkozik. A típusok vizsgálata során a szerző kitér a tárgyak (főként Meroving területekről származó) párhuzamaira, valamint néhány esetben funkcionális kérdésekre is választ keres.

Kulcsszavak: Magyarország, langobard, fegyverek, fegyverkombinációk


This study classifies the Langobard weapons in Hungary and examines their combinations. In some cases the function is obvious, or at least deducible. Among the spears, we can find five main and several subtypes where the angos were certainly used as throwing weapons. The two main types of the swords vary mostly in the quality – the better ones have pattern damascened blades. Almost every swordmount (such as the rings of Ringschwerts, lintels, etc.) have accurate Mero-vingian analogies. From the three existing types of sax, the most common one is the Kurzsax in the examined area. There is an interesting phenomenon among the angos and Kurzsaxes: these weapons are more or less perfect replicas of Merovingian weapons but their size is reduced, up to the half of the original ones. The only axe that was found in the examined area does not relate to the Merovingian franciskas neither in shape, nor in function; moreover, it is not even sure that the finding was used as a weapon, it could be a simple household object as well.

The shapes of the arrowheads are almost as varied as in the case of spears: altogether there are four main types. Those arrowheads which have barbs could be used as hunting weapons. The only punched-bladed arrowhead is not sure to have been used as lighting, and experimental archaeological data do not definitely support this theory. In some cases, especially when the arrowheads were in one pile in the grave, tiny buckles and quiverrings were observed near the piles. This could indicate the presence of quivers in the grave.

There are three main forms of shields, from the former tapered ones to the later hemispherical weapons. We only know two cases where a little piece of hauberk was found. Neither were man’s graves but a woman’s and a child’s (little girl’s) grave. Apparently they did not use the hauberk as a weapon but kept it with a protective purpose. By the pars pro toto principle the piece represented the protection of the whole object.

Almost half of the analysed graves contained only one weapon but this does not necessarily equal the number of weapons that were used in real life. The langobards put several arrowheads into the graves (up to 8-10 pieces), but there is only one case where the spears were doubled (Hegykő). There are no reports about any doubled swords or saxes in the examined area. The most common weapon combinations consist of two or three types (mainly spears, swords and shields). In some rare cases, the German habit of “overweaponing” is recognizable in the Langobard graves too; there is an example even for a five-type combination. Considering all of the analysed cemeteries, the graves with heavy male weapons dominated mostly. Considering the cemeteries that belong to the southern phase, this proportion can be balanced or even turned, which may indicate technical differences in military between the northern and southern phases.