A guide to...
Why were warriors so important in Viking times?
Times were turbulent for the Saxons and the Vikings. Although many people settled in communities, people always needed to be ready for invasion. Everybody knew how to fight and even children were trained in how to used weapons like axes and swords. In times of war, thousands of men would join together and go to battle while women and children would stay at home and be ready to defend their communities from attackers.
What did Viking warriors look like?
Viking warriors were very well protected. They carried round, wooden shields and wore leather helmets. Many people picture Viking helmets with two horns, but this is actually just a myth! Warriors also had metal shirts, axes and swords. Warriors with better quality weapons were usually people who were rich or more important in their community. Warriors would look after their weapons well and sometimes they would carve runes or pictures into their wooden shields as a way of trying to gain good luck in battle.
How fiercely did they fight?
The Vikings were infamous for being aggressive in their fighting. They were very strong and well trained for a brutal style of close combat. Some warriors, known as Berserkers, were particularly violent and would kill anyone and anything in sight, dressing in extra animal skins to make themselves appear even fiercer. In the Viking belief system, people thought that warriors who did well in battle would enter a special place after they died called Valharra, where they would be welcomed like true heroes.
A guide to...
Who was King Arthur?
Many historians believe that there was a British leader called King Arthur who was responsible for fighting against Anglo-Saxon invaders when they arrived around AD 500. There are a number of historical recounts that talk about a heroic leader who defeated hundreds of Saxon warriors, such as the writing of Nennius, who describes Arthur slaying 960 men single-handedly in one battle!
Was King Arthur real or just a legend?
It is difficult to know for sure, because the figure known as King Arthur comes from the period of history called the Dark Ages, for which we have inadequate evidence. Many of the stories that exist about King Arthur have been written down years later in the form of heroic myths, which is a literary style that adds magic, fantasy and exaggerated details to real events. If Arthur did exist, he would have been more of a war leader than a king in a castle.
What is King Arthur like in the stories?
The heroic myths tell tales about Arthur, the son of a royal couple who was hidden away and looked after by a wise wizard called Merlin. Arthur established his right to be king by drawing out a sword that had been magically set into stone. Later he married Guinevere and was famously seated at a Round Table along with his courageous knights. King Arthur lived in a great castle called Camelot and was able to complete many dangerous quests with the help of his magical sword, called Excalibur.
Full unit of 10 lessons for KS2, including Powerpoints, lesson plans and pupil resources.