Our knowledge about the arms and armour of the Viking age is based on archaeological finds, pictorial representation, and to some extent on the accounts in the Norse sagas andNorse laws recorded in the 13th century. According to custom, all free Norse men were required to own weapons and were permitted to carry them all the time.
Ibn Rustah was a 10th-century Persian explorer and geographer. His impression of the Vikings/Rus' is very favourable: "They carry clean clothes and the men adorn themselves with bracelets and gold. They treat their slaves well and also they carry exquisite clothes, because they put great effort in trade. They have many towns. They have a most friendly attitude towards foreigners and strangers who seek refuge." (Vikings by Brynjar Ágústsson, via Flickr)