Why Is This the Only Existing Viking Age Helmet?

Only Existing Viking Age Helmet - Norway

This iron helmet is the only one that is found in Scandinavia dating back to the Viking Age. Why are not more found? (Photo: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo)

In 1943, extraordinarily rich finds from the Viking Age were made in Haugsbygd in Ringerike, Eastern Norway. The finds included – among many other objects – the only helmet dating back to the Viking era found in Scandinavia.

Helmets are described in the Norse Sagas, and almost exclusively in association with chiefs and kings. Illustrations from the Viking Age are almost non-existing, but in some cases where the Vikings are depicted with ships, it looks as if they are wearing a helmet. Or is it really helmets? It is suggested that the Vikings actually wore pointy hoods as protection from the weather.

Unique Findings

March 30 1943, during World War II in Nazi-occupied Norway: On the farm Gjermundbu in Haugsbygd in Ringerike, a rich discovery is made: A burial mound proves to contain the burnt remains of two males and 76 different objects. They are placed in a wheelbarrow and hidden from the Germans.

Among the objects which date back to the 900s, there is a Viking helmet. 71 years after the finds, the Gjermundbu helmet is still very special.

There were also found an almost intact chain mail, three swords, one of which is ornamented with silver inlay and probably made in Gotland, three axes, three spearheads, four bulges from shields, riding equipment, game pieces and dices. It is believed that one of the buried men was a petty king from the Ringerike area.

Since the findings, one object is still regarded as unique; the helmet – the first and only documented dating back to the Viking era. It is fairly certain that it belonged to the dead petty king.

Only One Helmet

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Medieval Vikings

Medieval picture showing Icelandic Vikings wearing hats. (Artist: Unknown)

But why is there only found one helmet from the Viking Age in Scandinavia?

Norwegian archaeologists have put forward the theory that helmets were only reserved for the upper social strata of society, including the King’s hird, meaning those who were guarding the King and trained in the use of weapons – in addition to those who crossed the sea and “went out on Viking”.

This theory does not correspond with the fact that only one helmet is found in Norwegian and Scandinavian Viking burial mounds.

Could the answer be that the Vikings to a very small extent used iron helmets because they simply were too heavy? In addition to weapons, food and other supplies, it was important to keep the weight to a minimum. And not least – there should be room for trade goods that were going to be transported back to Scandinavia.

The Vikings were known to be extremely mobile and deadly warriors, both at sea and land. Would iron helmets stand in the way of their war strategy – and did they use a lot lighter and more flexible leather helmets?

ThorNews wonder..



Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews

Source:Museum of Cultural History, Oslo



Categories: Culture, History, Vikings

72 replies

  1. I suppose that from an Experimental Archaeology point of view, I wear a thick steel helmet as a reenactor and it never impacts me. It was certainly heavy at first but after training in it for a while I barely even notice I wear it any more. I do however hear from certain people who make real helmets using authentic methods (Tim Noyes for example), that making a helmet is very labour and resource intensive, perhaps even more so than making Maille or a sword. Perhaps therein lies the answer.

    • Hi Richard! Thank you for your interesting comment.

      The fact that making a helmet is very labor and resource intensive is perhaps a part of the answer, but does not explain why only one – 1 – helmet is found in the whole of Scandinavia, not even in the largest of the burial mounds that have been excavated.

      There are found Viking ships, hundreds of swords, axes, jewelry, and much more – and not to forget many objects that were brought home to Scandinavia from as far away as Persia and possibly China – meaning that the Vikings easily could have brought with them helmets – if they wanted to.

      But they did not. Why?

      • Helmets were likely handed down through generations as useful items. They’d eventually be re-shaped or recycled. Since they didn’t have the cachet swords did, they were less popular as grave goods. Swords were believed to have a soul. Helmets not so much (Magic spears, not magic helmets).

        And yes, you can make very effective helmets of leather and horn, and they’re warmer than iron as well.

      • Considering the mindset of those who went a’viking, Wouldn’t it be possible that wearing the helmet of someone you respected or triumphed over be some source of power either over your enemies or in the afterlife ? If you think that way, is it then possible that a helmet might have been either passed on or down, being repaired and reworked to continually morph into something better and greater but still holding the ‘luck’ of the original wearer? Maybe the reason that the helmet is so hard to find , is that it has evolved into something greater or different over time. You may be digging up viking helmets all the time, that are now helmets or armor pieces of a different era.

    • Did you wear the helmet for months at a time? The Vikings would have had to. Most of that time it would be useless, uncomfortable and provide less protection from the weather than lighter options. Even if well made, it would have been a pain, just like keeping up with and wearing a helmet in the military today is often a chore. The labor of making the helmet is a good point too, but I think the main reason they didn’t wear them is the inconvenience outweighed the protection.

      • Practically speaking, I doubt they’d wear the helms any more than they had to. while at sea, they’d be in storage. While on land, they’d be in a bag, probably carried on horseback or in a rucksack, only to be taken out if a battle was coming. But, even if they were worn for days at a time, a man still gets used to the weight. Even a modern pencil neck can get used to the weight of a military helmet.

      • Why would they need to be ‘worn’ for months at a time? Have a think about what you’re saying here. Helmets have been consistently worn all over the world for thousands of years…why would it suddenly be too cumbersome for the Vikings specifically when it wasn’t for other soldiers and warriors?

        I think it’s far more likely the helmets were worked into something else…as a helmet when you get down to it is pretty much just an iron plate…

        Furthermore how does the inconvenience outweigh the protection? Even if you were somehow required to wear the thing 24/7 for months on end, how is that worse a fate than all of the fatal blows to the head that could have been prevented? It seems such a trade off was very rare historical and nonsensical at best.

  2. Parts of other styles have been recovered in Denmark.

    In addition to them being expensive and difficult to manufacture, there was no tradition of placing helmets into graves. Helmets were also not sacrificed like swords or spears, so you won’t find them in that context either.

    • Hi!

      That is of course one theory – but why were helmets worth less bringing to Valhalla than artifacts like sewing needles, carpets, locks, wine glasses, clothes, weaves, etc?


      PS.. stay tuned – more interesting Viking articles coming soon 🙂

      • In Valhalla battle is fought and died everyday the belief was if you’re going to die and come back to fight anyway what’s the need for a helmet. Asatruar here so I’ve been studying this kind of thing every way that I can as often as I can.

      • Actually in the Norwegian sagas it is comented upon as rude and hostile when a guy shows up in a helmet. I think helmets was not a regular part of burial because you did not want to go to the gods in a hostile manner.

  3. Great post and site, found you from a friend share. I have given you a share on our FB page and followed you with @NorthernGrove on Twitter. Do you run a FB page for your site? ~ Aelfwynne

  4. Hi! And what about the Vendel Helmet?

    • Hi Marko!

      The Vendel helmet is a very nice helmet indeed – but dated back to the the Vendel Period; AD c. 550-790 (Vendel is btw a parish in Sweden) – meaning between the Migration Period and the Viking Age.

      But – if we include this helmet and some other metal fragments that are found in Scandinavian burial mounds and say that they may have been part of Viking Age helmets, we still only have got a handful. The point is still valid: Why are not more found?


      • Have you considered the aspects of going to Valhalla, and the social structure that would surround it. Would it have been possible that the “prized death” would have hindered the use of helmets in Scandinavia, due to the belief that using them being meant a man was “cowardly”, “unmanly” or even religiously, and socially abstract. The social environment coupled with religion have an immense effect on most people, and mold their actions to an extent. Just a thought.

      • You forget that very few helmets were found anywhere. Period. That Includes the Frankish empire, England etc. etc. Not a single helmet of any type has been found in England or France dating to the Viking period. The theory that they were too heavy to carry is cute but highly illogical. Why would you not carry an item that would save your life? The vikings fought in massive sieges in Paris. Without helmets the mortallity rate would be extreme. Arrows, stones etc. being thrown, shot and launched at you. In the infamous shield wall battles, not wearing armor or a helmet would have been devastating.

  5. I think one of possible answers lies in the fact that the helmets of the era were difficult to make- huge amount of time and skill was required to make helmets, until later on, when the technology allowed more standardized and massed production. In my opinion, helmets were simply passed on through generations, as an important heirloom. It is only a possibility and certainly not all helmets would have been passed on. But many certainly did and therein may be the answer as to why so few had been found in graves of the time. Plus, like some people have said before, the cost would have been prohibitive- would I want a helmet, or a sword? A helmet or a mail shirt? This may be the very reason so few helmets survive.

    • Contrary to some of the comments here, making a helmet is not as difficult as making other war gear, like a saxe, sword, mail brynie or other metal artifacts. It is closer to making a shield if not easier than that too. To make a helm takes about 1.5 to 4 Kg. of finsihed iron. To make a sword takes about 10 Kg of finished Iron and a big pile of charcoal.. To make 20 Kg of Iron ( enough to make one sword, and one helm and a saxe and a sheild boss and assorted nails and rivets) takes some 80 KG of magnetite sand ( found in rivers and ocean beaches, among other places) or equivalent bog iron or iron ore. and perhaps a bile of charcoal some 2 meters in diameter and one meter tall. APPROXIMATELY!.

      To make cgharcoal takes cutting green pine lumber splitting it and piling it in a suitable pile and covering it with fern root turf to keep oxygen out of the wood and then burning it enough to drive off the moisture and volitiles to make charcoal..{As an example, see the production video for coal tar that was used to seal the lapstrake seams of the Danish replical longship. Sea Stallion of Glendalough at the Vikingship museum in Roskilde} Making Iron of any sort takes a lot of charcoal which takes a lot of time and raw wood to produce. Making a helmet from iron is easier than making a steel bladed weapon since it takes extra effort and skill to make steel from Iron. The helmet can be made from simple strips of iron to which is attached iron or hardened leather plates, or the iron plates can be attached to each other directly. Little skill or tools are neded to make a helmet. Makiing a blade requires forgewelding skills and steel making skills, too. That takes the ability to create a really hot heat and apply it to the steel in the blade in a very skillful manner. Except for makinig the iron, a helmet can be made without any heat at all.

      As for weight, a well made iron helmet should not be heavier than some 2 to 4 Kg. Heavier is not worth the weight vs protection, for the most part.

  6. When I was taking both a Viking and Celtic studies courses at my college last year, professors stressed the fact that even though both of these groups of people had labor and resources to make great armor and helmets, they thought it was “braver” and more “manly” to not use all of it as while in battle. Maybe for some vikings helmets were where the line was drawn for body protection because it was seen as cowardly? Maybe they didn’t want to be taken to Odin’s hall with a helmet in tow because they wanted to bee seen as strong in the eyes of their gods and willing to “risk their necks” in battle for their families and land (which were highly important to them). This, of course, is PURELY speculation on my part because none of it can be proven, but this was an interesting article and it gets your imagination going on why there are not many helmets!

    • I agree with the idea of less weapons= more brave. While researching the use of weapons by Anglo-saxon warriors and the possible animal behaviours of warriors when fighting it was stated by some authors that naked warriors (that’s it, whitout armour, i.e., shield or helmet) were considered far more frightening and brave because they were associated with the berserkers and animal characteristics they could invoke to fight till they died. I could pass the references if anyone is interested.

    • I do not for a second buy into that notion. As a SCA heavy fighter (SCA = Society for Creative Anacronism), I know that the head is a primary target, and no matter if you fight viking or later period style, the head IS the number 1 target. The romans understood the importance of helmets as every legionaire had one, and a very well developed one to boot, formed by combat experience.
      If this were true, the warring vikings would have been decimated long before they could make a mark in history. We know for a fact that the vikings in Konstantinopel used helmets. I believe this is an interesating question indeed. Leather helmets would be a viable option, as hardened leather is almost as resilient to cuts as iron, but only a fraction of the weight. I think this is indeed a reason why so few helmets are found.
      But this is only my two cents.

      • Not to mention the production price of a leather helmet is a fraction of the price for an iron helmet, all you need is leather and bees wax to harden it, whereas an iron helmet needs to be tmpered and fitted and maintained in a different way.

      • This is inaccurate.

  7. What sources did your college professor use to support the brave versus helmet idea?

  8. If helmets were the privilege of kings, perhaps they were not buried with them because they were the equivalent of a crown, and went with the *office* rather than the wearer. Thus they would be handed along until lost or destroyed. Pure off-the-cuff speculation on my part, of course.

    • Rob Susan Abernathy posted this on another site and a reply indicated that iron would rust into nothing
      in a matter of 500 days if buried in soil. Your speculation is quite interesting, however.
      My son played soccer at Berra Field in St Louis. Are you related to the famous Yogi Berra ?

      • It depends on the soil type, and I’d certainly expect them to last more than 500 days. Then, quite a few swords and knives survive. Knives are common enough I have a dozen originals in my collection (They date from 800-1300). Alkali clay is a very good preservation medium.

  9. The answer to your question is bit tough and to find because I researched after reading this article but found no one. So yes you can say that apart from existing such medieval helmets, for sure can get their replica as their are manufacturers who make replica helmets.

  10. What evidence do you have that the helmet is really a Viking helmet? I checked my memory. The Vinland sagas do NOT mention helmets.

    The hats shown in the Icelandic picture are seen in most of the real early drawings of Americans made by John White in 1585 or earlier, including the fighting confrontations.

    After AD 1050 most Norwegian Princes wore a feather oh each side of the hooded head. Search for LENAPE HISTORY: NO ONE TURNED BACK Norse and Indian feathers might have been associated with baptism to Christ.

    The men who wore horns are western Indians who hunted buffalo. The Norse traded with them. There is an antedate that a Norse trader returned to a Greenland Althing with a set of horns, The English had very must to gain to do the PR of a brutal Viking.

    I think the the helmet was never worn by a Norseman in battle.

    • Good observations. May I suggest a couple edits? “antedate” probably is meant to be anecdote, a little example of something. “The English had the most to gain…”

      I do not know the reference to the feather representing the the baptism in Christ.

      The concept you propose is possible. The buffalo hunters were mostly a bit west of Minnesota in the Dakotas, but there is no reason to believe that the Norse did not get beyond Minnesota.

      • Of course there is. There is no evidence they did. No genetic remains, no organic remains, no metal remains, no sagas.

        Using your logic, there’s no reason to believe they didn’t have spaceships, either.

        There is saga and material evidence to support the POSSIBILITY that they reached as far as Montreal in travels, without settling. It’s a long way from Montreal to the plains, on foot, and you’d have to cross the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi. You’ve heard of those? Of course you have, because they are huge and notable. So, any Norse crossing them would mention them, too. Then there’s that Niagara Falls thing on the river. “That may be the largest waterfall in God’s Earth. Be sure you NEVER mention that in the Saga, Thorvald!”

        And of course, no one mentioned horns, Horns on helmets are a Victorian fancy, based on confusing bronze-capped Celtic dress helmets with Viking era helmets.

        As to the evidence this is a Viking era helmet…it was found in Scandinavia, and dates from the Viking era. Though I suppose it could be ancient Chinese, or Malay-Peruvian, or Martian, since we have no evidence to prove it’s not. :rolleyes”

        BTW, others have been found both in Scandinavia, and in Kievan Rus and Danelaw areas occupied by the Norse and Danes. Perhaps they kept the helmets in the areas where they were actually fighting, rather than at home on peaceful farms?

      • Actually, there were buffalo in the Ohio River Valley. They followed ancient migration paths up into the Appalachian mountains as the seasons changed, following food and safe winter pasture, However, the better source for the horns brought back would be the Musk Ox, which ranged from Canada to Greenland.

  11. The lack of surviving helmets means absolutely nothing; it’s an observational artifact.

    We have only -one- surviving Norman-style helmet from the eleventh century from France, for example, and only a dozen or so from the whole of Europe in that period, but nobody doubts many thousands were worn.

    Beware ending up like the drunk who was found looking for his car keys under a streetlight; when asked if he’d dropped them there he replied: “No, but the light’s better here.”

    Men wore the best fighting gear they could afford. Pretty well everyone would have a spear and a knife. After that the scale of priorities went shield first (you couldn’t fight in formation at all without a shield), next a helmet, then a sword, then torso armor — leather, metal-reinforced leather, and mail as the best but most expensive.

    In short, pretty well every Viking who could afford it wore a helmet. Every one who could afford it (a smaller number) wore a hauberk.

    A man with the complete kit — helmet, shield and mail hauberk — was at an enormous advantage in combat, and the total weight was still quite a bit less than what a modern soldier wears, and it was better distributed.

  12. Burial mounds have offered up hundreds of combs yes? Vikings were big on appearance and hygiene. I submit that Vikings didn’t want helmet hair. 😉 My maternal grandmother is from Norway, I know I hate wearing hats. Lol. It is interesting that just one helmet has been found.

  13. There are few helmets found because 1) they were often destroyed or badly damaged since they covered the one spot everyone wanted to smash to pieces. And 2) they were a pain in the ass to make so they were recycled. If you killed a guy you took his helmet with you, becasue a helmet is a pain in the ass to make. As for the no helmet in burrial sites thing, think about it. Would you walk up to the Gods in Valhalla wearing a helmet, like a scared little girl? No, you have your weapons and some things you might need, but there are no helmets in Valhalla. You dont need helmets in Valhalla. Burrying someone with a helmet is like saying “here, take this, I think you`re a big pussy so you`ll probably need it”. It`s just rude. If they find someone burried with a helmet, he was probably a real douchebag. So they were used up and eventually destroyed.

  14. Fascinating! Much thanks for following First Night Design. I’m just about to re-blog this article on my history site.

  15. This notion by some posters that few if any Viking warriors wore helmets into battle is preposterous. The Sagas are filled with accounts of helmet wearing Norsemen from all levels of the society. There are dozens of references to helmets in Egil’s Saga alone. Try looking up WWII helmets found on the Eastern front by Russian collecters. Look at the amount of damage caused by the elements to those helmets that have been in the ground for less than a century.

  16. But, you cannot look only for the artifacts themselves and disregard other evidence of the helmets.

    First of all, as you say, texts. This you did cover.

    Secondly, we have several viking age runestones in Sweden which depict warriors with what is most likely helmets, for example, look at the Ledberg runestone in Östergötland province, Sweden.


    Third, we have some small viking age statuettes in Sweden with what is most definetily helmets, for example the small statuette from Sigtuna, Uppland province, Sweden.

    Fourth, there are other fragments of viking age helmets, even if there are few. From Broa, Gotland province, Sweden, we have a fragment. Here is a reconstruction made from the fragment:

    http://www.thorkil.pl/platnerstwo/helmy/wczesne/21f.jpg There are also a similair fragment from Denmark.

    Fifth, the vendel helmets are indeed helmets, not one single. Other helmets of the same type are found in Valsgärde and Ultuna, Uppland province, Sweden. They are, as you say, from the vendel era (ca 550-800 AD) and thus not viking age. But we cannot disregard them, since they are found in the same context and culture. As I said, there are several, and they are totally marvelous:

    Sixth, the helmet from Ultuna, Uppland province, Sweden, are said to probably be from the vendel era, however, it is not clear. Some archaeologists date it to the viking age.

  17. Reblogged this on Addicted to Godric…& Eric…& Andre and commented:
    Potentially of interest to those of y’all interested in Viking-y things:

  18. it seems logical that since none exist that Vikings either did not wear them or they were made of some material that did not survive the ages. It could be that they thought them to be less than manly, they prided themselves on strength and valor, perhaps helmets were seen as cowardly.

  19. As a biker, I find I have better spatial awareness without a crash helmet than with. So given the choice, I would weigh up whether I am safer with a helmet to protect me, or the extra knowledge of my surroundings to avoid incidents in the first place. When I rode a trike, I never wore one (no legal requirement in the UK) and felt safer than when on my two wheeler where it was law to wear one. I wonder if they used similar arguments?

  20. I enjoyed the article. I have been looking into this subject myself since I penned an article on Viking helmets. The region of my expertise, Brittany (in France), was occupied for about 20 years in the 10th Century by Vikings, including the trade city of Nantes. An 11th century manuscript recounting the occupation shows the Vikings approaching, and they are depicted as being much better equipped than the Breton defenders. Here is the illustration:

    It shows the Northmen as all having helmets and spears.

    I propose that the reason Viking helmets are so rare is because 1. they used varied styles not associated with their own culture, obtained through trade then recirculated after death; and 2. Scandinavian made helmets in the 10th Century may have been made with high quality steel (we know they made it) which would have been melted down for other purposes considering the value of the metal.

    In any case it certainly is an interesting topic. Thanks for the article!

  21. Hi,

    Reading all your comments i like to state this:

    – it is really strange no other helmets are found.
    – Helmets were used and made by lots of cultures before and after the Vikings
    – as former armourer i find it more difficult making a sword, than a helmet
    – as former (Norman, medieval and Napoleonice Cuirasier) reenactor I know how to wear armour, for days and sometimes longer with not that much trouble.

    Here’s my idea, for what it’s worth:

    Roman helmets were made in large quantities, and a lot were found, but considering the enormous numbers made during about 400-600 years, the finds represent only a very small fraction of the numbers made ( there must have been more then a million!)
    In fact, all the real Roman armour, including the “lorica” armours can be put in a rather small room…

    So for this fact, Viking warrior numbers, compared to Roman army, are very small, and so are the Helmet and armour finds.

    Making a helmet is not difficult.
    If you can produce steel for a sword, making damascus steel etc, you can also make simple iron to produce iron plate and make a helmet.
    Viking helmets are, unlike Roman iron helmets or Medieval iron helmets of very simple construction.
    1 or two iron bands around and over the head, hammering out “infill” plates, rivet it together and there’s your Viking helmet.
    I can make one helmet a day, using rather simple tools (ok, I use ready made 1,5 mm iron plate) like the tools Vikings used.
    If I had to make a sword, it would cost me a week or more working with 2 men.
    A simple axe will take a day. (but I admid, I never made a axe from scratch)

    About wearing armour and armour weight.
    Right now, I put my own “Wenceslas” helmet on the scales for you, and it measures 1200 grams.
    It has a leather liner and putting it on my head it feels comfy.

    I wore it for weeks, during training for the Hastings 2006 event in Battle Abbey.
    I wore it in extreme heat, often with a maille hood plus a maille hauberk ( long mail shirt)
    I got severe hits on it, including one with a blunt axe.

    Transporting the helmet when not on the head, is also net difficult.
    Like the Romans, just bind the chinstraps together and hang it on your spear or belt.
    No trouble.
    When on horseback, hang it on your tack or saddle.
    Done that often, no problem.

    This Wenceslas type helmet is not really Viking, but the shape and weight and period are the same.

    I’m still here on this planet, so it was not that hard to wear, even on horseback it was never a trouble.
    Only having a long nose (like me) is trouble, for feeling the constant pressure of the “nasal” – the nose piece of the helmet pressing against it.

    Wearing armour is a combination of wearing suitable “barrier” clothes or “padding” under it.

    Vikins would have wearing felt caps under their iron helmets, just like the Romans did.

    Leather liners come in around the 1200-1300 century.

    Fighting “freestyle” like Vikings were supposed to, requires light armour…
    Fighting without helmet looks cool, but is a bit suicidal, but using that particular “big eyepiece” Viking helmet at the top of this article, it must be very well possible.
    You could have a good view, combined with nice face/eye/head protection.

    I really don’t no….. We have to find some more helmets to be sure.
    I find it reasonable to wear a helmet when fighting.
    But that is me, in my culture, here in 2015….
    Perhaps it was really cool to fight like a Viking, wearing only an axe, shield and spear.

    In the novel “The Go-Between” , L. P. Hartley starts with the line “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

  22. Two things must be considered unlikely:
    1) The Vikings did not wear metal helmets. The Reason is not the weight, but the cost. Metal was precious, and one would NOT spend time, money and resources on an object one would rarely, or never, use. Helmets were for status.
    2) Most Vikings did not have swords, because swords were extremely expensive, and most people could not afford to spend this much metal on one token object. The weapons of choice were axes and spears.

    • I’m totally with you about the sword contra axe theory.
      Making a nice axe is peanuts, and a usefull item too.
      But keep in mind a battle axe (big Dane-axe or smaller Francesca like axe) is totally different from a wood-chopping daily use axe.

      On the no-iron helmet theory:
      Cuir Bouilly or boiled leather would be a valid material to the Viking culture.

      I’ve seen it used in reenactment , it is hardened waterproof lightweight leather.
      It sure wouldn’t cost as much as iron and had a good protection value.

      Above this: it provides us with a possible reason for the absence of Viking Helmet finds ….. Leather wil rot.
      (On the website of Armourarchive.org there is a lot to be found on the subject of Cuir Boulli and armour construction in general. House of the Wolf, an armour maker was specialized on cuir Bouilly and made stunning decorated pieces. )

  23. A helmet is a large item, it’s not likely to get lost accidentally in the same way as coins and knives do. It’s got a lot of value as it’s made of metal. When it gets too battered to be worth wearing (or the price of better armour comes down due to improvements in techniques) it’s taken to a blacksmith and recycled into nails.

    The Viking style conical helmets went out of fashion in the 12th Century, people who could afford a helmet wore one that gave more protection to the face. The helmet evolved into something better.

  24. Almost the same type found in Vendel and Valsgärde in Sweden. They are a few year younger, Vendeltime 800.

  25. i strongly believe that metal helmets would be recycled due to the value of the metal probably reforging them either to modernize to the latest fashion or melted down to make some other tools i mean most people to day would not just go out and ditch there car in the woods as long as they could get some money out of it

  26. Hi, on the subject of helmets, aren’t there any contemporary accounts of battles/dat attire of the Vikings. detailing the wearing of Helmets. Its my understanding that the sags mention the wearing of ‘hide’ as caps for the ‘common’ warrior and fine helmets for the leaders….

  27. As a reenactor I can confidently say that weight is not an issue at all. They’re easy to carry by putting the chin straps around your belt and the weight on your head is nothing.
    Like has been mentioned above the reason we haven’t found more is simply because they wouldn’t just be thrown away. You would re-use them and hand them down until you eventually melted it down for its iron to make other tools or to have a more modern better helmet made. I might be using a domed spectacle helm that has been handed down for 3-4 generations but then have it melted down and replaced with a more modern conical helm.
    This one was found in a very rich grave so whoever was buried was wealthy enough for them to leave a helmet in the grave rather than re-use it.
    The Roman helmet point is a good one, hundreds of thousands of Roman helmets must have been made yet look at how many we have actually found

  28. There are several possible answers to why only one intact (more or less) Viking helmet has been found:

    1. Perhaps helmets were uncommon in use, for one of several possible reasons: a) They could have been expensive or difficult to make and thus reserved for the higher chiefs, or b) they could contradict the typical Viking macho ideal and desire to die in combat. Helmets are, however, mentioned in written sources and this hypothesis also does not explain why other rare items (such as swords) are found in many graves. In addition, Vikings were known for their capability as warriors and would no doubt dress sensibly rather than letting silly ideals get in the way.
    2. Perhaps helmets were too common in use to be used as grave goods? When placing goods in a grave, the tradition was not only to offer things that the deceased could use in the afterlife, but to demonstrate the status of the individual. The visitors who came to pay their respects at the funeral would see the high-status items in the grave and so the family would offer up swords, scabbards, valuable jewelry and other trinkets in addition to animals, in order to impress onlookers and consolidate the status and power of the family. If helmets were common, simple and cheap items, it may be that they were not considered worthy of being place in graves.
    3. The helmets don’t last in graves. When looking at the items found in Viking burial mounds, most of them are all but disintegrated. Solid items tend to last longer, and if a helmet was not made of thick iron, there is every chance they simply do not turn up intact because they have not survived a millennium under ground. The large excavations in Norway that were most successful (Oseberg, Gokstad) yielded large amounts of items because the earth consisted of layers ideal for preserving the material – such as clay. No helmets were found there, however. It could be that helmets were not often made of metal, or that only parts of them were, making them unlikely to survive a 1000 year slumber under the earth.

  29. beskytte seg når smeen lagde våpen

  30. Hurstwic.org

    They use the Viking Sagas and have complete compilations of weapon and armor usage in the Sagas. They have good articles. As for different helmets, even the one that we think for sure is a helet from viking times doesn’t match later helmets or others mentioned in the sagas don’t explicitly list all of the features of the one with mask. The others from the vendel period are interesting, and I can see the resemblance. We also have enough to say that a viking helmet is recorded in the Oesburg Tapestry, possibly for ceremonial purposes. All of the other artifacts point to the use of horns having to do with Odin, and rituals involving the Beserkers, who wore wolf skins in the Sagas, and according to artefacts did so alongside a warrior with a horned helmet, possibly whither an intentional eye missing to be Odin. There is another article about all mm of this somewhere. Horned helmets were worn in celtic times and according to Romans a lot of other things were worn by northerners and phoenecians. Complete pictureset from any one artefact or art source isn’t feasible. But large parts can be drawn and reasonably sorted I believe.

  31. If they weren’t simply inherited
    After the battle

    Think about it it was a useful item of decent value that was easy to stack, store on the ship and sell
    Same as swords, etc
    Anything metal was valuable to plunder and take back on the ship. Obviously they prefered gold and silver but a simple rower/shield and spearman who couldn’t afford his own chainmail yet took what he could get. As late as The Deluge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_(history) in the 1650s metal was plundered down to the doorhinges and nails. Metal also have an advantage over taking slaves, especially on a ship, you don’t have to feed it or bring extra water. Also there weren’t that many helmets buried in the massgraves after Battle of Visby, and there they buried people in full armour. Helmets are easier to get off than body armour.

    Also you didn’t need armour in Valhall since you died and was resurrrected every day as commented before.
    The Vendel helmets also all have extra fancy metalwork on them.

  32. I agree its a combination of many things but definately would agree they would be passed down or reworked, the sword would have a power and very spiritual, Spears, Axes, Knives and shields would have smaller quantities of metal so they would be present as grave goods

    Helmets larger quantities of metal, not a lot going for them in a spiritual context plus I think wearing a helmet in valhalla might say the wearer was afraid …. maybe

  33. Think of it – as a viking why are going to valhalla? to get killed again over and over again for eternity?
    Why would you need any sort of protection? There is no point for that, its useless for the purpose. But weapons, yes you need them, to hack your brethren to pieces, lol.

  34. Because they were only worn by kings and chieftains. and even then rarely. I would have thought they would only wear them in battle. So how many kings and chieftains were there during this time when human population left a very small footprint? Too many questions with no answers. We’ll probably never know. But possibly the helmets were recycled into swords or something more useful.

  35. As a comparison there have only been fragments of about 7 Anglo Saxon period helmets found in England. One would expect there to be less of them since fewer were professional warriors, but in later times each hide of land was expected to fund a certain number of equipped warriors.. Certainly the acidic soil in places such as my native East Anglia has something to answer for in terms of corrosion. Very little chain mail has survived either. Both are heavy to wear (I am a re-enactor) but warriors would have been fitter and used to more physical work and training. Certainly boiled leather makes for a far cheaper, lighter alternative. The Benty Grange helmet had bone plates between a metal framework it is believed.

  36. Maybe it’s down to weapons they where likely to face. 90% of the weapons where spear or spear like so it was important to protect the torso but a spear thrust to the face wouldn’t be deflected unless it was a full face helm (some norse/saxon helmets had face guards). Also an axe to the helmet would be deflected to the shoulder which before plate armour would probably be lethal anyway. Vision and mobility probably outweighed metal head protection.


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  9. The Confusing Horned Helmets Depicted in the Oseberg Viking Age Tapestries | Exploring LokaBrenna

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