Viking Sagas – The hitty fighty highlights

The excerpts are from the translations at The Online Medieval and Classical Library.

My comments added in black.

Our son is slain, let us riot in battle; my eager love for him driveth me to my death, that I may not be left outliving my dear child. In each hand I am fain to grasp the sword; now without shield let us ply our warfare bare- breasted, with flashing blades. Let the rumour of our rage beacon forth: boldly let us grind to powder the column of the foe; nor let the battle be long and chafe us [No you definitely don’t want a long, chafing battle]; nor let our onset be shattered in rout and be still.” When he had said this, he gripped his hilt with both hands, and, fearless of peril, swung his shield upon his back and slew many.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

Steel rends the mail-coats, the woven mesh is torn apart, and the midriff gives under the rain of spears. By now the huge axes have hacked small the shield of the king; by now the long swords clash, and the battle-axe clatters its blows upon the shoulders of men, and cleaves their breasts.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

Horwendil, in his too great ardour, became keener to attack his enemy than to defend his own body; and, heedless of his shield, had grasped his sword with both hands; and his boldness did not fail. For by his rain of blows he destroyed Koller’s shield and deprived him of it, and at last hewed off his foot and drove him lifeless to the ground.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

Both the warriors assaulted Uffe; but, distrusting his sword, he parried the blows of both with his shield, being determined to wait patiently and see which of the two he must beware of most heedfully, so that he might reach that one at all events with a single stroke of his blade.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

For his shield, which hung aloft from the rafter, instantly fell and covered his unarmed body [Handy!], and, as if on purpose, covered it from impalement by the cutthroats. He did not fail to make use of his luck, but, snatching his sword, lopped off both feet of the nearest of them.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

Cormac whirled it up just when Steinar was striking out. He struck the shield-edge, and the sword glanced off, slit Bersi’s buttock, sliced his thigh down to the knee-joint, and stuck in the bone. And so Bersi fell.
Kormak’s Saga

But one stroke Thorod fetched at Thorbiorn, and smote off his foot at the ankle-joint; but none the less he fought on, and thrust forth his sword into Thorod’s belly, so that he fell, and his gut burst out. 
Heitharviga Saga

Now when Snorri and his folk came to the garth, it is not told that any words befell there, but straightway they set on Arnkel, and chiefly with spear-thrust, which Arnkel put from him with the sledge-runner, and many of the spear-shafts were broken thereby, nor was Arnkel wounded;
Eyrbyggja Saga

And when they came to the homestead they leapt off their horses and were minded to enter, but might not break open the door. Then they leapt up on to the house, and fell to unroofing it.  Arnbiorn took his weapons, and warded himself from the inside of the house. He thrust out through the thatch, and that became woundsome to them.
Eyrbyggja Saga

Now slow work was the winning of the skerry, but when they had been thereat a long while, Thord Wall-eye made a dash at it, and would thrust at Thorleif Kimbi with a spear, for he was ever the foremost of his men.  The thrust smote the shield of Thorleif, but even as Thord Wall-eye laboured over the blow his feet failed him on the slippery floe, and he fell on his back and slipped headforemost down from the skerry. [Those authentic shoes are sooo slippery!]
Eyrbyggja Saga

Thorir had a bear-bill in his hand, and therewith he ran at Uspak and smote at him, but Uspak put the thrust from him, and whereas Thorir had thrown all his might into the blow, and there was nought before the bill, he fell on his knees and louted forward.
Eyrbyggja Saga

Olaf went to the fold-door and struck at him with his spear. Hrapp took he socket of the spear in both hands and wrenched it aside, so that forthwith the spear shaft broke.
The Laxdaela Saga

Then she drew a sword and thrust it at Thord and gave him great wounds, the sword striking his right arm and wounding him on both nipples. So hard did she follow up the stroke that the sword stuck in the bolster. Then Aud went away and to her horse and leapt on to its back, and thereupon rode home. [Well done that bird.]
The Laxdaela Saga

And forthwith Helgi thrust his spear out through the window and through Hrapp, so that he fell dead to earth from the spear. 
The Laxdaela Saga

One day Grettir was sitting in a booth and drinking [A fine occupation], because he wanted to keep out of Gunnar’s way. Suddenly there was a bang at the door, so hard that it broke in pieces, and in rushed four men armed and attacked Grettir. They were Gunnar with his followers. Grettir seized his arms which were hanging above his head and ran into a corner, where he defended himself, holding his shield before him, and hewing with his sword. They made little way against him. One blow he succeeded in delivering upon one of Gunnar’s followers, who needed nothing more. Then Grettir advanced, driving them before him out of the booth, and killing another of them.
Grettir’s Saga

Gunnar would fain have got away with his men, but on reaching the door he caught his foot on the doorstep, fell over and was not able to recover himself at once [Hate it when that happens]. He held his shield before him and retreated as Grettir pressed him hard. Then Grettir sprang on to the crossbenches near the door. Gunnar’s hands and the shield were still inside the door, and Grettir struck down between him and the shield, cutting off both his hands at the wrist. He fell backwards out of the door, and Grettir gave him his death-blow.
Grettir’s Saga

The berserk thought they were trying to get off by talking. He began to howl and to bite the rim of his shield. He held the shield up to his mouth and scowled over its upper edge like a madman. Grettir stepped quickly across the ground, and when he got even with the berserk’s horse he kicked the shield with his foot from below with such force that it struck his mouth, breaking the upper jaw, and the lower jaw fell down on to his chest [This is why shield eating is a Bad Idea]. With the same movement he seized the viking’s helmet with his left hand and dragged him from his horse, while with his right hand he raised his axe and cut off the berserk’s head.
Grettir’s Saga

Karli ran his ship alongside the other side of Gunnar’s ship, and hurled a spear athwart the deck, and aimed at him about the waist. Gunnar sees this, and turned him about so quickly that no eye could follow him, and caught the spear with his left hand, and hurled it back at Karli’s ship, and that man got his death who stood before it. 
Njal’s Saga

Against Gunnar came Vandil, and smote at once at him with his sword, and the blow fell on his shield. Gunnar gave the shield a twist as the sword pierced it, and broke it short off at the hilt.
Njal’s Saga

Audulf the Easterling snatches up a spear and launches it at Gunnar.  Gunnar caught the spear with his hand in the air, and hurled it back at once, and it flew through the shield and the Easterling too, and so down into the earth [Seems to be a popular trick].
Njal’s Saga

To save the minds of his soldiers from being melted into sloth by inaction [‘Minds melted into sloth’ – I like it.], he decreed that they should assiduously learn from the champions the way of parrying and dealing blows. Some of these were skilled in a remarkable manner of fighting, and used to smite the eyebrow on the enemy’s forehead with an infallible stroke; but if any man, on receiving the blow, blinked for fear, twitching his eyebrow, he was at once expelled the court and dismissed the service.
The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

So then befell a great battle, and Steinthor was at the head of his own folk, and smote on either hand of him; but the fair-wrought sword bit not whenas it smote armour, and oft he must straighten it under his foot.
Eyrbyggja Saga

Then he ran to Freystein, and smote him on the neck with his sword, and loud was the clatter of that stroke. So he cried withal: “Art smitten, Rascal?”
“Smitten forsooth,” said Freystein, “but yet no more than thou didst deem, for no wound have I therefrom.”  For in a hooded hat of felt was Freystein, with horn sewn into the neck thereof, and on that had the stroke fallen.

Eyrbyggja Saga

Olaf bade the crew fetch out their weapons, and range in line of battle from stem to stern on the ship; and so thick they stood, that shield overlapped shield all round the ship, and a spear point stood out at the lower end of every shield. Olaf walked fore to the prow, and was thus arrayed: he had a coat of mail, and a gold, reddened helmet on his head; girt with a sword with gold-in-laid hilt, and in his hand a barbed spear chased and well engraved. A red shield he had before him, on which was drawn a lion in gold [Tart].
The Laxdaela Saga

Grettir got off his horse. He had a helmet on his head, a short sword by his side, and a great spear in his hand without barbs and inlaid with silver at the socket. He sat down and knocked out the rivet which fastened the head in order to prevent Thorbjorn from returning the spear upon him [Cunning].
Grettir’s Saga

Then Kettle of the Mark rushed at Kari, and thrust at him with his spear.  Kari threw up his leg, and the spear stuck in the ground, and Kari leapt on the spear-shaft, and snapped it in sunder.
Njal’s Saga

Now they all rose up and ran at them, and Modolf Kettle’s son was quickest of them, and thrust at Kari with his spear. Kari had his shield before him, and the blow fell on it, and the spear stuck fast in the shield. Then Kari twists the shield so smartly, that the spear snapped short off, and then he drew his sword and smote at Modolf; but Modolf made a cut at him too, and Kari’s sword fell on Modolf’s hilt, and glanced off it on to Modolf’s wrist, and took the arm off, and down it fell, and the sword too.  Then Kari’s sword passed on into Modolf’s side, and between his ribs, and so Modolf fell down and was dead on the spot. Grani Gunnar’s son snatched up a spear and hurled it at Kari, but Kari thrust down his shield so hard that the point stood fast in the ground, but with his left hand he caught the spear in the air, and hurled it back at Grani, and caught up his shield again at once with his left hand.
Njal’s Saga

It was also but a short space of time before Eyvind did come up swinging his sword, and made a cut at the king; but Thoralf thrust his shield so hard against Eyvind that he tottered with the shock.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

And he ran at him with uplifted axe; but the viking Skarde swung himself in the rope, and let himself fall just before Thorkel’s feet, so that Thorkel fell over him, and Vagn caught the axe and gave Thorkel a death-wound [I don’t really like this ‘flinging yourself under the enemy’s feet’ plan for some reason].
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

He looked down over the ship’s sides, and saw that his men struck briskly with their swords, and yet  wounded but seldom. Then he called aloud, “Why do ye strike so gently that ye seldom cut?” One among the people answered, “The swords are blunt and full of notches.” Then the king went down into the forehold, opened the chest under the throne, and took out many sharp swords, which he handed to his men. [Say “ta”]
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

King Olaf threw his shield over his head, and sank beneath the waters. Kolbjorn held his shield behind him to protect himself from the spears cast at him from the ships which lay round the Serpent, and he fell so upon his shield that it came under him, so that he could not sink so quickly. [Shields have so many uses]
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Arnliot had a large halberd, of which the upper part was mounted with gold, and the shaft was so long that with his arm stretched out he could scarcely touch the top of it; and he was girt with a sword.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Then the bonde-army pushed on from all quarters. They who stood in front hewed down with their swords; they who stood next thrust with their spears; and they who stood hindmost shot arrows, cast spears, or threw stones, hand-axes, or sharp stakes.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Eystein and his men had hastened so fast from the ships that they were quite exhausted, and scarcely fit to fight before they came into the battle; but afterwards they became so furious, that they did not guard themselves with their shields as long as they could stand upright. At last they threw off their coats of ringmail, and then the Englishmen could easily lay their blows at them; and many fell from weariness, and died without a wound.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Olver lifted his axe, and struck behind him with the extreme point of it, hitting the neck of the man who was coming up behind him, so that his throat and jawbone were cut through, and he fell dead backwards. Then he heaved his axe forwards, and struck the next man in the head, and clove him down to the shoulders.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

While the Vindlanders were storming the castle, their king and his chiefs were out of the battle. At one place there was a man among the Vindlanders shooting with a bow, and killing a man for every arrow; and two men stood before him, and covered him with their shields. Then Saemund Husfreyja said to his son Asmund, that they should both shoot together at this bowman. “But I will shoot at the man who holds the shield before him.” He did so, and he knocked the shield down a little before the man; and in the same instant Asmund shot between the shields, and the arrow hit the bowman in the forehead, so that it came out at his neck, and he fell down dead.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

They changed the watch with each other in the night, and those who had been before on watch lay down and slept; but all completely armed. It was their custom, when they went to sleep, that each should have his helmet on his head, his shield over him, sword under the head, and the right hand on the sword-handle. [Sounds like they were short of room in their authentic tent]
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

In this tumult King Hakon received his death-wound. When his men knew he had fallen they rowed with all their might against the enemy, threw away their shields, slashed with both hands, and cared not for life. This heat and recklessness, however, proved soon a great loss to them; for Erling’s men saw the unprotected parts of their bodies, and where their blows would have effect. The greater part of Hakon’s men who remained fell here; and it was principally owing to the want of numbers, as they were not enough to defend themselves.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway