MISCONCEPTION: Viking Helmets always, or at least often had horns attached, possibly to make them look more intimidating.
TRUTH: No evidence, historical records or actual helmets have ever suggested the existence of viking helmets with horns attached. A true shame.
Posted by Alexandre R.D.M. Coates on January 30, 2011 in Misconceptions, Trivia
Tags: countries, fact, history, humans, vikings
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Rowan van Tonder (@RowanVanTonder)
January 29, 2013 at 07:24
Interesting that the samurai didn’t heed the whole notion of having nothing on the helmet to slew a sword blow of the head, but it might have been as they has a different fighting style.
December 9, 2012 at 01:03
from a practical aspect, who would wear something that would be a huge disadvantage in close quarter combat.? Could give your enemy something to grasp , snare or strike that could off balance you. The Viking long ax was used to pull an enemy’s shield away. They knew how to fight and how not to.
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August 10, 2012 at 21:02
I believe the actual helmet…upon which this reproduction was made…was found in Norway just north-west of modern day Oslo. Ringerike area?
November 12, 2012 at 17:47
nope it was found in the ground! lets not be nerdy!!! xx
May 27, 2012 at 23:05
I think helmet horns could be a damn nuisance when worn sailing or even raping and pillaging. Can’t imagine the Norse doing anything impractical. Great blog! My thanks.
January 26, 2012 at 00:22
actually vikings or “Norsemen explorers’ did not in fact wear horned helmets they were pagan so they had little statues of there deities wearing horned helmets so when Europeans traded with vikings they sometimes obtained these statues and whenever a painting of vikings was made they were all wearing horned helmets.
convey sativa or rashid
December 21, 2011 at 22:12
there are lots of viking facts what about viking gods!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
September 25, 2011 at 14:22
This is infact untrue. There is evidence that Vikings did wear horned helmets, although mostly for ceremonial purposes. Here is a photo of a carving of a viking warrior wearing a horned helm.
September 25, 2011 at 14:38
And here as well:
Alexandre R.D.M. Coates
September 25, 2011 at 23:59
Thank you for your input. The article is mainly concerned with the belief that Vikings wore horned helmets in battle, which originated only in the 19th Century thanks to the work of an enthusiastic illustrator who put horns and dragon wings on the helmet of a dapper Viking. Thanks to the popularity of the book the misconception spread. No horned helmets have ever been found to have been created during the time of the Vikings. Almost all were the helmets of Celtic priests, the only authentic Viking helmet ever found was like a peaked cap with eye protectors.
The images are difficult. There is almost no chance of knowing whether they are actually depicting Vikings, in fact, chances are that the people depicted were a different culture. The Germanic Iron Age, in which horned helmets were worn for ceremonial purposes, overlapped with the Viking age. Of course that is supposition, if what I have just said is wrong then you are right. The problem with history is that there is almost no way of knowing. The general consensus among those in the field however, is that horned helmets probably did not feature in Viking culture.
Kevin 'Herbie' Blackburn
October 17, 2011 at 19:15
indeed – the archaeological remains of Vikings, Ancient Britains and Anglo-Saxon of the time are virtually indistinguishable, espcially in terms of the average warrior, their armour, weapons and other artifacts. It is only when we get to expensive art and the trappings of the gentry that there can be discerned some distinction between the artforms and shapes of artifacts, and even then there is heavy borrowings and copyings between these people. The overlapping running serpents of Celtic art can be seen in Viking art as well, and the Helm of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon King could just as easily have come from a Viking grave.
However, the depiction of Vikings with horns does go back to the contemporary records, with carvings in churches and drawings in mnanuscripts, but this can be attributed to Christian monks trying to associate their Viking raiders with the Devil.
June 18, 2013 at 13:13
Actually. They have found helmets with horns in a few places in Sweden. But these are all dated to several hundred years before what is to be considered the viking age. All findings and paintings from the viking era are of helmets without horns.
October 17, 2011 at 19:08
A carving is not proof – in many contemporary Christian depictions of Vikings they were given horns to increase their association with the devil – this is written about at length by monks, who demonised the Vikings because they despised their raiding of their wealth and buildings. The most often found arhaeological evidence for horned helmets actually comes from the Ancient Britons, where the horns added were usually rivetted metal as opposed to actual horns (Battersea Helmet). Likewise the Winged helms Vikings are also supposed to have worn – this is more properly to be associated with the Gauls. In all cases, horns and wings as adornment were to ceremonial helms, as such a contraption would only render a helmet useless, as the shap of a helmet is specifically designed to slew a sword or axe blow off the head, not trap it as a wing or horn would do.
January 14, 2014 at 05:48
No, these images are pre-Viking, from the 6th century. The Viking Age was roughly 800-1200.
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