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Download the King Arthur Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 1 MB) to see how to create the things you need to be a king just like Arthur. Also see which knight of the round table you are most like, and more. Then use the videos below to the learn the Makaton and British Sign Language for ‘king’, a key skill in any knight’s quest.

Makaton and British Sign Language

Other fun things to do

Watch the storytelling to see how a boy began his journey to be come a legend and gain his famous sword. Then read our article to dive into the world of King Arthur’s weapons and armour. Finally, read the article all about the history of King Arthur’s legend.

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Joan of Arc, an historical superstar

Statue of Joan of Arc riding a horse. She is in full armour and holding a sword

This statue of Joan is in a park in Washington DC, in the USA. She looks very proud and confident, hopefully to inspire others to be the same.                          Photograph ©David King 2006. Used under Creative Comms Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence.

Joan of Arc has inspired painters, sculptors, writers, composers and cinema directors for over 600 years. Not bad for a girl who came from a village in the middle of the french countryside, who could not read or write, and  died before she was 20 years old.

Fun Fact: Whilst Disney has not made a film about Joan of Arc, she does appear in one. In ‘Frozen’ when Princess Anna sings ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’, you can see a portrait of Joan when Anna lies on the settee.

History’s first social ‘influencer’?

Joan became famous very quickly in an age when TV, the internet, social influencers and TikTok did not exist. She and her family did not have any famous or important friends to help make her famous. It was her character, her passion and her self-belief that convinced others to believe in her and support her campaign. Word of mouth did the rest. Whether she was a strategic genius, inspired by God, or just lucky, her fame spread because people simply started talking to each other. The rich, the poor, the French and the English; the military commanders and the church leaders, they were all talking about her.

Joan: Saint or Sinner?

Earliest drawing of Joan of Arc.

This is the earliest drawing we have of Joan of Arc. It is in the protocol of the parliament of Paris (1429). It was drawn by Clément de Fauquembergue, but we don’t think that he ever actually saw Joan herself. © French National Archives

Joan of Arc succeeded in putting King Charles VII on the French throne, but shortly after she was captured by the English. King Charles made no attempt to help her. Joan was finally tried with the English finding her guilty of being a witch, of not believing in God and of dressing like a man. On the morning of 30th May 1431 Joan was burned at the stake.

However that was not the end of her story. After her death her fame only grew. 20 years later King Charles VII ordered a retrial for Joan. This time they decided she was innocent- not much help to Joan, of course. Joan became a hero of revolutionary France in the 1700s and 1800s. In 1920 the Catholic Church made her a Saint.

Fun Fact: Michael Morpurgo has written over 100 books, including ‘War Horse’, ‘Private Peaceful’ and ‘The Butterfly Lion’. He has also written a book called ‘Sparrow’ which is inspired by the life of Joan of Arc.

Joan’s Legacy

Poster of Joan of Arc in full armour and holding a sword. Poster is asking America women to buy war stamps to help with the war effort

Designed to inspire women to buy war stamps and save their country, this American poster shows just how inspiring Joan became.

Joan is not just a famous hero in France, she is known all over the world. Take America for example: During the Second World War, a poster was issued in America with Joan as its star. The poster was designed to ask women to donate money to the war effort. You can see it above. There is also a brand of beans in the USA and Canada named after her. Anyone for Joan of Arc chilli beans?

Her name and image have been used for lots of different things. Many of these have nothing to do with her life or the beliefs that made her famous. But it shows that Joan can be just as inspiring to people today as she was 600 years ago. Even if that is only to buy a tin of beans.

Trendsetter

Did you know that even Joan’s haircut became a fashion trend? According to the historical records, Joan cut her hair short. In 1909, Monsieur Antoine (one of Paris’ most popular hair stylists) started to cut his clients hair short, called a ‘bob’, inspired by Joan of Arc. This look really caught on in the 1920’s and it is still a popular style today.

Joan’s story shows just how much influence one person with belief and determination for a cause can have. These are the qualities of a true hero. Do you have belief in something? What do you think you could achieve?

Other fun things to do

Download the Joan of Arc Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2 MB) to explore further the world and tactics of 15th century war. Watch the story telling to see how Joan went from average teenager to becoming a legend. Also, read our article all about other incredible warrior women from history. Finally, learn the British Sign Language for ‘blade’ and Makaton for ‘sword’ to help you tell the epic story to your friends and family.

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Joan of Arc is one of the most famous fighting women in history. She is often shown dressed in armour, with a sword in her hand and waving a flag. Joan was determined to get the Dauphin (the next in line to the French throne) crowned as King of France. Dramatic, right? But she was not the only woman in history to play a major part in war. Let’s have a look at some other warrior women from Europe in the 1400s and 1500s.

Margaret of Anjou 1430-1482

Queen Margaret of Anjou with a sceptre in her left hand and reaching to her husband with her right hand.

This is Margaret of Anjou. You can see she is wearing a crown and has a sceptre in her hand, showing that she is a queen. Image courtesy of the © British Library, MS Roy. 15. E, VI f. 2v.

Margaret came to England from a part of France called Anjou when she was just 15 years old. She married King Henry VI and became Queen. Unfortunately her husband had serious mental health issues which meant he was very ill for months at a time. He even missed his own son being born because of his illness. So Margaret had to fight for her husband and her son’s right to the throne.

One of Henry’s cousins thought he should be King instead of Henry. This began a war for the English throne called the ‘War of the Roses’. You might have heard of it. Margaret did not put on a suit of armour and charge into battle screaming (unfortunately), but she did have the brains to pull together resources and people to help her. She rallied lords and gained support for her husband and son. Margaret succeeded at a time when it was not common for women to be involved in military matters. But all her efforts were not enough. Her son was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 and her husband was killed whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Despite failing to reach her goal, Margaret is remembered as a fearsome woman. Over a hundred years later, playwright William Shakespeare called her the ‘She-wolf of France’! Rude.

Isabella of Castile 1451-1504

Portrait of Isabella of Castile

Isabella of Castile does not look very happy in this portrait, does she? © 2019. Museo Nacional del Prado

Born in Castile, which is part of Spain, Isabella was never meant to be Queen. After the death of her two brothers and a lot of family squabbles (well… a war actually) she was crowned Queen of Castile in 1474. Unusually for her time, she inherited the throne and became Queen in her own right. She was only 23 years old.

Isabella is known as a ferocious queen. It is believed that she once rode out to talk to rebels who had risen up against her rule, and that she was successful in stopping their rebellion. Few monarchs would have had the bravery to face rebels in person. So she was clearly not scared to stand up for herself. Isabella did not fight in any battles during her reign, and there were a lot of battles. She did travel with her armies and advise on military tactics, while also organising field hospitals to help wounded soldiers. Very cool for a queen to do.

Katherine of Aragon 1485-1536

Portrait of Katherine of Aragon

This portrait of Katherine of Aragon when she was Queen of England © National Portrait Gallery, London

You might think this queen looks familiar. That is because she is the youngest daughter of Isabella of Castile. Katherine is also the first wife of the famous King Henry VIII of England. When Henry was away fighting in France in 1513, the Scottish invaded England. This was not a surprise, since the relationship between the kingdom of Scotland and the kingdom of England was often a bad one. But Katherine and the lords of England still needed to defend the country. Katherine worked with the Earl of Suffolk to get the English armies ready for  war. The Battle of Flodden was a victory for the English: King James IV of Scotland was killed during the battle. Katherine wanted to send her husband the body of the Scottish King as a gift to celebrate. Gross. But she was persuaded only to send King James’ blood-stained coat. Still gross.

Helping England win against an age-old rival made Katherine a very popular queen.

Don’t you, forget about me

Unlike Joan of Arc, all of these women would have had a place in history  for being queens. But like Joan, they used their intelligence and will power to go after their goals, even if people around them thought they shouldn’t. This has given them a special place in history as warrior women. And we have only looked at a few women! We could have included Boudica of the Iceni tribe in the 1st century, Empress Matilda of England and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century, Queen Mary I of England in the 16th century without even leaving Europe. There are many, many more from all over the world.

Can you think of any other famous women from history who are heroes?

Other fun things to do

Download the Joan of Arc Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2 MB) to explore further the world and tactics of 15th century war. Watch the story telling to see how Joan went from average teenager to a roaring legend. Also, read our article all about how Joan’s life has continued to inspire people for the last 600 years. Finally, learn the British Sign Language for ‘blade’ and Makaton for ‘sword’ to help you tell the epic story to your friends and family.

Alternative communication formats

Please contact us if you require any of our downloadable documents in an alternative format.

Arjuna with a bow over his shoulder in front of a dramatic sea and background

Arjuna is a hero of a great many tales from the Mahabharata. It is no wonder that many people look up to him!

Who is Arjuna? Well, he is one of the main characters in the Mahabharata, a very important ancient poem for those who follow the Hindu religion. He is a warrior prince and an incredible archer who has many adventures. He is also a brother, one of five to be exact, who are called the Pandavas. They are the sons of King Pandu of Hastinapur and his two wives. They are like most siblings, they have adventures, but they do not always get along!

So, what is Mahabharata?

The Mahabharata is one of the longest epic poems ever written. It has over 200,000 verse lines, 1.8 million words and it is believed that it could have taken over 600 years to write! The oldest surviving piece of text is believed to be dated from 400BCE. Can you imagine writing all of that?

Some believe that the Mahabharata was originally narrated by Vyasa, who is said to be the greatest sage (really wise person) in the history of Hinduism and that the poem was written down by Ganesha (Hindu god of new beginnings). The term ‘Mahabharata’ itself translates to ‘the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty’. How grand and epic.

Stories are often changed and adapted over time, and the Mahabharata is no different. Even though it is hundreds of years old, the epic remains popular and important to this day. Paintings, sculptures, architecture, plays and films are just a few things the Mahabharata has inspired. One of the plays about the poem is 9 hours long. The first film about the poem was made in India in 1920.

Hindu god Ganesha writes the Mahabharata while Vyasa narrates

This image shows Vyasa (right) telling the Hindu god of new beginnings, Ganesha (left), the stories that make the Mahabharata. With that many words, it must have taken a long time to write!

So what actually happens in the Mahabharata?

The main story in the poem is about two groups of cousins, the Pandavas brothers and the Kauravas brothers. These cousins fought a ferocious struggle for the throne of a place called Hastinapur. This conflict ended in the mighty Kurukshetra War, an eighteen day battle so bloody that it is said 1.66 billion warriors lost their lives. Arjuna played a major role in this battle and killed many powerful and important warriors on the Kauravas side. As well as tales of adventure , there are also important tips and guides on how to live a good live and important teachings. Things like standing by what you believe is right, that friendship is very important, that being greedy is bad and can lead to your downfall, and importantly for such an old text, that women are equal to men.

Arjuna and Krishna Advance Against the Kauravas

In this 19th century painting you can see Arjuna and Krishna in the chariot that is being pulled by white horses and charging to the left. Arjuna has his bow up and is ready to strike while Krishna is controlling the horses. They and their army are fighting against the Kauravas brothers, which is the army on the left side of the painting. You can see that bows and arrows are the main weapon on this battlefield, and there are elephants to the top of the painting too!  © 2020 Philadelphia Museum of Art http://www.philamuseum.org/

Like most heroes, Arjuna does not show up to battles depicted in the Mahabharata empty-handed. To help him in his adventures, Arjuna carries the mighty Gandiva bow. This weapon has amazing powers that gives the user bags of self-confidence, as well as having an unlimited number of arrows! Arjuna also travels in style. He uses a chariot pulled by four horses to get around.

So are the events in the Mahabharata true?

No one can be sure how true the events mentioned in the epic are true but some people believe that they are based on true events, possibly a real war that took place before the text was written. What we do know is that Arjuna’s archery skills and epic adventures make him a true hero and someone that we should all look up to.

Other fun things to do

Watch the story telling of how Arjuna helped the god of fire, Argni against Indra, the god of war. Then read all about how Indian heroes used archery to show off their skills. Then download the Arjuna Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2MB) to dive into the world of Mahabharata and the Pandavas brothers, then see how to sign ‘Archer’ in British Sign Language and Makaton.


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The stories of Robin Hood have echoed through the ancient forests of England for hundreds of years and are still as popular today as when they were told in medieval times. Watch the story below and see how Robin is not the only hero of the woods of England…

Story telling of Robin Hood and the hunter

Activity pack

Download the Robin Hood Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2MB) to dive even further in to the mayhem of Robin’s world and then learn the British Sign Language and Makaton for ‘hood’. Also read our article about the different types of bows that Robin and his men may have used and our article about the legend of Robin Hood. Was he real? Was he as nice as we all think he was? Did he actually have a band of followers that included Maid Marion and Friar Tuck? Find out!


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Archer drawing a bow

Do you think you have what it takes to become an archer like Robin Hood?

For tens of thousands of years bows and arrows have been used not only as  weapons in battle, but also for hunting and sport.  In the traditional stories, although Robin Hood uses a sword and a quarterstaff (a big stick), it is the bow he is most famous for. On TV and in the movies, however, the ‘bad guys’ always use crossbows. So let us have a look at the longbow and the crossbow.

The longbow

Longbow without string, found on the Mary Rose wreckage.

Though it may not look like much, this longbow is almost 500 years old. It is one of many found on the shipwreck of the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. There are no surviving English longbows older than this, but experts have been able to learn a great deal from these bows!

Effective range: 229 metres

Speed: 10-12 arrows per minute (depending on the archer)

A bow was fairly cheap to make, compared to a sword or a complex crossbow, so it was easy to mass produce them. If you had enough archers in your army, and they could shoot far and hard enough, it didn’t matter so much how accurate they were. It became such a popular weapon by the 1200s that armies across Europe, and especially in England, recruited thousands of archers.

The main job of an archer was to stop mounted knights. This can be done by shooting arrows into the slim gaps of plate armour and small holes of the mail armour to get to the squishy flesh underneath. They could also stop, or at least slow down, a knight by killing his horse. As armour improved over time, so did the longbow. The draw-weight (the force needed to pull the string of a bow back) increased. So, the power behind an arrow on release was stronger and it could punch through armour.

But there was one big drawback. It took years to become strong and skilled enough to draw a longbow. So in England laws had to be passed to keep everyone equipped and practising:

The crossbow

Effective range: 200 metres

Speed: 2 bolts per minute (depending on archer and loader)

Crossbows are ancient weapons which were used in China as early as the 7th century BC. They did not become common in Europe until the medieval period, at least 1000 years later… so a bit late to the party really. They shoot bolts, also called quarrels. And unlike longbows, crossbows require little strength or training to use. If you can pick it up and point it in the right direction, you can shoot it.

A crossbow made from wood, iron and cord from the 15th century

This crossbow is from 15th century Germany. It is much smaller in size compared to a long bow. It has an oval of iron at the front called a ‘stirrup’. You would put your foot through this bit and then use your hands to pull back the string of the bow into the trigger…what a lot of effort!

The crossbow could pierce through armour. This made it as powerful as a longbow. This was such a disturbing idea, that anyone at all could operate a weapon powerful enough to kill a knight, that in 1139 the Pope tried to ban the use of longbows and crossbows against Christian soldiers.

But there was one big drawback. They took a lot longer to load than a longbow, which put the archer in danger on the battlefield as it left them exposed. So, a type of free-standing shield called a ‘pavise’ was invented to shield the crossbowmen as they reloaded! Clever, right? But also heavy and awkward.

Rectangular shield decorated with image of St George and the Dragon

This pavise is from the 15th century. If you look very closely you can see that it is decorated with the image of St George stood on top of a dragon! Do you think this shield would be good protection while you reloaded your crossbow?

So why does Robin Hood have a bow?

In Robin’s day, if you were not a knight, you had and used a bow. Robin having a bow is typical for the time. It is his skill that is exceptional. And on TV and in the movies, maybe having the sheriff and his men use crossbows is a way of suggesting unlike Robin, they lack skill and strength? Almost like they have to cheat with an easier weapon to be as powerful as the ‘good guy’. What do you think?

Activity Pack

Download the Robin Hood Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2MB) to dive even further in to the mayhem of Robin’s world. Watch the story telling of Robing Hood and the Hunter to hear how Robin and Little John came up against two of their most fearsome foes. Also read our article about the history of Robin Hood, where he came from and…was he even real?


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Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Sherwood Forest, Maid Marion and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham are the stars of a whole load of tales about stealing from the rich to give to the poor. There have been movies, plays, books, video games and comics all with Robin Hood at their centre. He even made a cameo appearance in Shrek! But is what we know about Robin true?

A man in a green medieval hood with a long bow and arrows

Man or myth? Who do you think Robin Hood might have been? Was he even real?

Where did the story come from?

The earliest written mention of Robin Hood is in a poem from the year 1377, where a priest says he found the tales of Robin Hood easier to remember than the Lord’s Prayer. Not good for a priest, really. But this does mean the stories of the outlaw were probably well known by then, with them being passed from person to person. It was not until the 1400s that the adventures of Robin started to be written down in the form of ballads, and they are very different from the stories that we know and love today.

Black and white drawing of Robin Hood, with archers bow, on horseback

An early image of Robin Hood (c. 1500). Does he look like how you imagine he would look like?

But was Robin Hood a real person?

Yes… and no. There are a few people who have been considered to be the ‘real’ Robin Hood. Some of these share his name, some have suspiciously similar stories (but do not have the same name). What is clear though, is that the name ‘Robin Hood’ in the 13th and 14th centuries was a symbol of being an outlaw.

Where was Robin Hood from?

I am afraid we do not know this either! It depends on who you think the original Robin Hood was, although he most likely was not from Nottingham or Sherwood Forest. In the original stories,  Robin was actually from Yorkshire, not far from the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds!

A photograph of a very large oak tree that is 1000 years old

The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. This oak tree is the largest in Britain, and is about 1000 years old. It is often said to be where Robin Hood and his Merry Men slept.

Was Robin a good guy in all the stories?

Well the short answer is not really, he was actually quite violent! In the original stories, Robin and his men even killed people travelling through the forest. And we are sorry to break your heart, but he did not steal from the rich and give to the poor either. He definitely stole, but most of it went into his own pocket! A few more things, there was no Maid Marion or Friar Tuck in these earlier versions. Nor was Robin a Lord. He only had three of the Merry Men we know today; Little John, Will Scarlet and Much the Miller’s Son.

So why has the story changed so much?

Like many legends, the story of Robin changed with the times and what the audience wanted. For example, in 1597-98 Anthony Munday wrote plays about Robin. According to Munday Robin is Lord Robert, Earl of Huntington, and he also has a love interest  – Maid Marion. This was probably because  in Munday’s time Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and lords and ladies had a lot of power. In Disney’s animated Robin Hood movie from 1973, the characters had been turned into animals, to appeal to a younger audience. And in a more modern adaptation of the stories, the BBC television series in 2006, Marion takes a more active part in helping Robin and even saves him. This reflects the growing understanding of women being just as fearless and able as men!

Even more curious is the way that the idea of Robin has been borrowed without changing him much at all. In the Marvel Comic Universe, Hawkeye is a misunderstood criminal turned crime-fighter who happens to be an exceptional archer. DC comics’ Green Arrow is wealthy playboy turned crime-fighter who happens to be, wait for it, an exceptional archer.

 

Engraved print of Robin Hood and two men holding weapons

A 17th-century illustration of Robin Hood, Little John, and Will Scarlet. Can you see how the fashion of their clothes has changed from the drawing from the 1500’s? This is to appeal to the audience that would have seen this print.

We can no more pin Robin down than could the hapless Sheriff of Nottingham. But real or not, 600 years on there is little sign that we have lost interest.  And maybe it is precisely that mysterious quality, the hooded archer stalking the shadowed forest armed only with his wits and his bow, that keeps him alive.  May the outlaw remain on the loose for 600 years more.

Activity Pack

Download the Robin Hood Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2MB) to dive even further in to the mayhem of Robin’s world. Watch the story telling of Robing Hood and the Hunter to hear how Robin and Little John came up against two of their most fearsome foes. Also read our article about the different types of bows that Robin and his men may have used.

 


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Cartoon of man in green hood cocking a bow

Think you have the mind and quick whit of Robin Hood himself? Download the Robin Hood Fun Activity Pack (pdf, 2MB) to see if you have what it takes to be an outlaw in the forests of England!

BSL and Makaton

Speak BSL or Makaton or are learning? Watch our videos below that show how to sign the word ‘hood’. They will help you tell the story of Robin Hood.

 

 

That is not all!

Watch the story telling of Robing Hood and the Hunter to hear how Robin and Little John came up against two of their most fearsome foes. Also read our article about the different types of bows that Robin and his men may have used and our article about the legend of Robin Hood. Was he real? Was he as nice as we all think he was? Did he actually have a band of followers that included Maid Marion and Friar Tuck? Find out!


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Please contact us if you require any of our downloadable documents in an alternative format.

There are many stories about Thor and many different versions of each story. They have travelled through the centuries, through verbal retelling, written accounts, and now in film.

Watch below as we dive into the tale of how Thor got his famous hammer, Mjolnir. Be ready for a roller coaster tale including golden hair, magical gifts and… a fly that can smile?

Story telling of Thor’s hammer

Activity pack

Download the Thor Heroes & Legends Fun Pack (pdf, 2MB) to have even more fun exploring Thor. Also see our page with videos on how to sign ‘hammer’ in British Sign Language and Makaton! Read our articles, one is about the story of Thor and the other is about the weapons that Vikings would use.


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Archaeologist's drawing of a Mjolni amulet

We know Mjolnir must have been important to the Norse because of the number of amulets archaeologists have found, like this Swedish one from the 10th century

Just as famous as Thor is his magic hammer Mjolnir, which means ‘lightning’ or ‘lightning maker’ in Old Norse. It was one of the most popular symbols used by the Norse Pagans. Hammers were used to bless births, funerals and even weddings. Disappointingly, the Vikings themselves didn’t use hammers in battle, but they did have a whole host of other nasty weapons. Here are some of the most common:

Axes: giving people the chop

Axe head from the 10th -11th Century

This axe from the Royal Armouries collection is from the 10th-11th century. Would you be scared if you saw this swinging towards you in battle?

A lot of Vikings carried axes into battle. There were loads of different axes, some cheap, some fancy, and some so big they had to be used in two hands! Just like Mjolnir had many different powers, axes were more than just weapons. Axes could be used to chop up meat or fish and cut wood for fires or building ships. This made them pretty handy when you’re making long journeys across the seas. Axes made for war were generally stronger and bigger than those made for regular use, perfect for smashing enemy shields to pieces and chopping up the warriors that were holding them.

Spears: getting the point across

Lozenge shaped spear head

This spear head is from the 8th-10th century. It still looks as terrifying as it would have done freshly forged!

The most common Viking weapon was the spear. Like axes, spears were part of the Viking toolkit, mainly for hunting wild animals. Some Viking spears were as long as 10 ft (3 m), great for keeping enemies away, while others were shorter for throwing at people. Either way, it’s very hard to fight someone when you can’t reach them! On the battlefield, the thin metal point of a spear could slip through the gaps in the enemy’s armour and get at the flesh underneath. They were also useful against horse riders, if you point a sharp spear at a horse it won’t want to charge you. Funny that.

Fun Fact: You might remember from the story that Odin was given a magic spear by Loki as a gift. Gungnir, as the spear was called, could also make any promise or deal unbreakable, so if you ever meet Odin be careful what you agree to.

Sword from 8th-9th century

This sword is from the 8th – 9th century. It would have shown how rich and powerful its owner would be. Unfortunately, we do not know if it was ever given a name. Can you think of one?

Swords: the weapons of kings

The fanciest and richest of Vikings would have used swords. Swords were very expensive in Viking times because they used a lot of valuable metal to make, and were so important they were passed down from parents to children and some Vikings even gave their sword a name! Like really expensive handbags, if you saw a Viking with a sword you knew they had a lot of money!  Vikings probably fought with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. They could use both as weapons: slashing and cutting with the sword while bashing and bruising people with the shield.

Fun Fact: While Mjolnir firmly belongs in the land of myth, there were real weapons that were similar to it. These ‘war hammers’ were invented in the 1300s, 300 years after the Vikings disappeared, and were used across Europe, the Middle East and India to crack open heavily armoured knights and soldiers.

Two men in 16th century tonlet armour fighting with Poleaxes

Look at the weapons these two knights are carrying. They are called pollaxes and have a hammer at the top. They look very different to Mjolnir and the other Viking weapons!

So why did his worshippers give Thor a hammer?

The short answer is, we don’t know. Maybe it had something to do with the noise and sparks a blacksmith’s hammer makes. What other divine tool would produce thunder and lightning? In any case, Mjolnir was no ordinary hammer. It had magical properties, not least that it destroyed everything it hit and returned to the hand of whoever threw it. With such power and range, who needs a sword?

Download the Thor Heroes & Legends Fun Pack (pdf, 2MB) to have even more fun exploring Thor and Vikings! Also see our page with videos on how to sign ‘hammer’ in British Sign Language and Makaton! See our story telling of how Thor got his hammer and an article all about the story of Thor!


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