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One thing with regard to the cosmopolitan nature of Vikings, is that it probably also applies to the Saxons - just to confuse things totally.

Some of the recent finds in saxon hordes etc suggest a very busy set of trade routes right through as far as Byzantium. Garnet and other semi-precious stones are quite common, garnet especially as based on the horde found near the M6 Toll in Staffordshire. so much so that red and gold might be a good theme colour for a saxon army.

The Saxons also fared to Byzantium where some of them enlisted and fought in the Varangian Guard (IIRC Harold Godwinson was one), so the better off saxons were exposed to as many cosmopolitan influences as the vikings were.

Re: Saxons

Great suggestion Steve.Garnet and gold also feature heavily in the Sutton Hoo burial. This is a good option for any decorative metal on Saxon shields, helmet crests, belt buckles, strap ends, shoulder clasps, sword pommels and scabbard chapes and mounts.

If you want to avail yourself of some SERIOUS historical knowledge then Bernard Cornwell says an identifying feature of the Danes is portable property. Not just their belief that everyone else's property is portable but their love of wearing their gold and silver in the form of arm rings and torques as a show of status and for gift giving. Also all of Cornwell's Danes wear a Thor's Hammer amulet around their necks. All of them.

In truth the biggest difference in their appearance might have been the Vikings salt stained clothing.

Re: Saxons

Gold and Garnets is something that is specfic to an era which isnt generally the Viking Age normally thought of as being post 793ad, anybody who was anyone was reconisable by the quality of their clothing an expensive commodity in a time when everything had to be done by hand... silk for example was a rarity and only worn by the very rich and at least one Scandinavian king went under his mound in a gown containing gold thread...

If you want somthing specific then that might be a sword with a silver inlaid hilt possibly with niello decoration for a wealthy man of a specific type, for warriors looking to join Cnuts Huscarls(1013ad)it was a requirement to become a member, that and owning a mail shirt....

It would a good question if you could tell the difference, I suspect in the hair.. Anglo-Saxons seem to favour short hair and mustaches and otherwise clean shaven unless old, possibly to some degree the clothes almost certainly the language and often but not always the religion, and Scadinavians likes Axes a lot.... but otherwise a knee length tunic, mail shirt, a conical or occasionally domed helmet, sword, spear and round shield would be normal during most of the age...

Your mistaking Harold Godwinson for Harold Hardrada see "King Harolds Saga" Snorri Sturluson, Anglo-Danes/Saxons better to call them English joined the Varangian guard after 1066...

Re: Saxons

norway,sweden,rus,constantinople,asia minor.
hardrada sure got around before stamford bridge.

Re: Saxons

Fought in battle at 15 died in battle at 51.... a true Viking King

Re: Saxons

Your mistaking Harold Godwinson for Harold Hardrada see "King Harolds Saga" Snorri Sturluson, Anglo-Danes/Saxons better to call them English joined the Varangian guard after 1066...

You're right - I wrote it was work and couldn't check the details.

Re: Saxons

hardrada fought with the varangian guard in a couple of battles in italy,against the normans and lombards.
would there be any real difference by this time between lombards in italy and normans?
(i hope its ok to ask in this thread)

viking varangian guards.sounds like a neat set to make.