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6 Mighty Barbarian Weapons

The barbarians are often remembered as being the uncivilised warriors that somehow managed to take down the legendary Roman Empire. However, a closer look tells us that they were in fact only able to do so by their highly organised military tactics and infamous military leaders.

What’s more, they used a variety of effective weapons. From axes to elephants to chainmail, the barbarians didn’t hold back in terms of weapon creativity.

Here’s 6 important weapons that were used by the barbarians:


Chainmail is a type of worn armour vests that consists of tightly knitted metal rings. Providing more flexibility than traditional metal plate armour, they allowed free movement and yet almost total protection from incoming spears and swords.

Due to their intricate nature, they were expensive and timely to make, and were typically reserved for senior barbarian military members and chieftains.

The Romans even admired them, and adopted their own version calling it “lorica hamate.”


Hannibal infamously had a small army of around 40 elephants. He used them to carry equipment and weapons, launch and fire weapons from and trample enemies.

The stuff of military legends, many military historians argue that these elephants were a key advantage and reason for his success, and that this war tactic had simply never been used in Europe before.

Unfortunately, the majority of his elephants perished when Hannibal and his men ambitiously crossed the Alps mountains, but supposedly a few did make it across and reached just a few miles shy of Rome before Hannibal retreated to concentrate on protecting his territories in North Africa.

The Long Sword

The long sword was the prime weapon of choice for the Barbarians tribe the Gauls, who were the Celtic people that now live in Belgium, France and Western Germany. These long, double-edged swords were primarily designed to slash and seriously injure an enemy with just one blow.

On battlefields, these swords could be awkward to maneuver, simply because of their size but in guerilla and surprise attacks they were particularly effective – which was the barbarians main warfare tactic.

The Celtic Chariot

When the Romans invaded part of what is now the UK, they encountered Celtic Chariots for the first time. These were small carriages pulled by typically one or two horses. They were used both to transport soldiers during battle and as a platform for launching weapons and attacking while in motion.

They were also used to pick up wounded soldiers and replace them with new ones on the battlefield. The Romans were greatly impressed with this military tactic, and quickly adopted it into their own military strategies.

The Falcata

The Spanish tribe Celtiberians used a type of sword called the falcata. This was a curved, two-foot-long steel sword. It was single edged near the handle and double-edged near the tip.

This weighting allowed these barbarians to stab with great force with relative ease. These swords were capable of penetrating Roman armour and even snapping more traditional swords in half.

The falcata was a favoured weapon by Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca, who equipped his troops with these weapons and they were also adopted by the Romans.

The Battle-Axe

Germanic barbarians were known to carry heavy axes into battle, capable of decapitating enemies and smashing through armour and shields with a single blow. The Francs barbarians prefered to use the "francisca" which was used to hack and throw at enemies. The axe head was extremely sharp and thick, but with a short handle made it easy to maneuver and throw during battle.

The battle-axe was one of the main weapons to transcend into medieval times, and was used by the Vikings, particularly the Varangian Guard.