The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have been grouped together because they share a interconnectedhistory ranging from being united under a single monarch to waging war against each other.
Although Sweden was independent of the other two from the early 16th century, Denmark and Norway remained united until 1814. Norway then formed a union with Sweden which lasted until the end of the century but their armed forces remained separate.
The Scandinavian countries have a common Viking heritage and the axe has always been more favoured as a warrior’s personal weapon than in other parts of Europe and one even features in the Norwegian Coat of Arms. It could be argued that the boarding axe descended from the battle axe in these countries rather than from a tool.
Sweden and Denmark had their own arms manufacturing industries and although their style of axes are distinct, they are sometimes confused. This is perhaps unsurprising as during the wars between them both sides would have captured and re-used the others’ weapons.
Scandinavian axes tend to longer handles than is the norm elsewhere; 36” (91.5 cm) is perhaps a rough standard but some models were up to 5’ (152 cm) in length and these longer weapons were sometimes fitted with a vertical spear spike or elongated axe head to facilitate a stabbing action. In effect these weapons were designed to be used as axes or half pikes.
Boarding axes in these nations were weapons first and tools second. Sweden in particular was late in making cutlasses available to the common sailor and pikes and axes were initially their primary weapons.
These two models are sometimes confused.
To the left is the Swedish Model 1780 and to the right the Danish 1810 which is the only Danish Model with a flared blade, all others being bearded.