Did Viking Helmets Have Horns? Get The Facts

Did Viking Helmets Have Horns? Get The Facts

Well, surprisingly no! In popular culture, helmets with horns are linked with Viking warriors, however, there is no proof that this is the case.

The myth that these horned helmets are historically accurate dates back to the 1870s. The horned motif dates back to the Bronze Age and can be found in the ancient Near East.

Where Did The Vikings Horned Helmet Originate?

Coming to the origin of Viking helmets, archeologists to date find it very difficult to find a pure Viking age helmet. When Viking researchers have sought to research the Viking era, horned helmets have never once been mentioned.

The first Viking-origin helmet was found from a grave in Norway, however, it had no horned structures, which dispels the myth that Vikings had horned helmets.

So, where did these horned helmets come from? 

  • Well, nearly 3000 years ago, and many centuries before the Vikings controlled the area, horned helmets were dumped in the bog
  • That places the origin of the horned helmet in the late Nordic bronze age when archeologists believed regular trade in metals and other goods had spread throughout Europe and indigenous civilization was being influenced by foreign ideas. 
  • These helmets most likely served as symbols of the soaring power of the Scandinavian elite throughout the bronze age.
  • The idea that Vikings wore helmets with horns may have spread because certain historians misrepresented actual events in their writing. 
  • It’s possible that European Christians who encountered the Vikings embellished accounts of their appearance by adding horns to their helmets in order to propagate an unfavorable impression of them as devils with horns.

Indeed, horned helmets existed in ancient Europe, although the Vikings didn’t wear them. A Celtic horned helmet from between 150 and 50 B.C.E. was discovered in London in the 1860s.

And in 1942, two remarkable horned helmets from 900 B.C.E. were discovered in Denmark by laborers. Both of these discoveries date back thousands of years before the arrival of the Vikings.

Read More: Were All The Vikings bad or evil?

What Did The Viking Helmets Really Look Like?

What Did The Viking Helmets Really Look Like
  • The standard Viking-era helmet was a bowl-shaped cap-like structure. Contrary to common perception, there isn’t much proof that horns ever appeared on Viking-era helmets.
  • The spangenhelm form of the helmet was popular during the Viking age and this helmet was often constructed from many pieces of iron riveted together.
  • A single iron band that wrapped around the brow and was welded to two other iron bands that crossed at the top of the head made up the spangenhelm. 
  • The bowl was made by inserting riveted iron plates into the four apertures. 
  • To protect the eye and brow areas, built-in plates or ridges were integrated into the front of the helmet. 
  • To shield warriors from strikes from enemy weapons such as swords, axes, arrows, and spears, it was dome-shaped and probably covered the entire top half of their heads.
  • The nose guard, which is shaped like a vertical finger and hangs down from the forehead to shield the wearer’s nose, was also a part of the helmet. The nose guard and the brow guard were welded together.

Did Vikings Wear Metal Helmets?

Whether Vikings wore horned helmets or not, Vikings did wear metal ones.

This is because the only headgear found in the grave of the man in Gjermundbu, Norway was a metal one, which indicated that if ever Vikings were using helmets, they must have been designing and constructing them using metal materials.

As was previously mentioned, multiple pieces of iron were frequently riveted together to create the helmets of the Viking era. This method was chosen because it is less labor-intensive and easier to construct helmets this way.

Because of the limitations of the bog iron that was often employed in the Viking age, it is also thought that Viking-age blacksmiths were unable to produce a single piece of iron large enough to form the bowl for a helmet.

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Here are some of the characteristics of Viking metal helmets:

  • Four slots in the Vikings’ metal helmets were filled with riveted iron plates to form the bowl.
  • In rare instances, firm leather rather than iron may have been used to fill the four spaces in order to save money.
  • What was used within the helmet is unclear. To stretch out and absorb the impact of a blow, the helmet needs to be lifted off the head. A blow to the helmet would be passed directly to the skull if the iron of the helmet rested on the head, offering little protection.
  • A couple of the remaining helmets include rivet holes, which indicate the employment of a leather suspension system. Additionally, it’s possible that a cap made of absorbent material, like sheepskin, was used to assist stop the helmet from rusting from the inside as well as to absorb moisture in addition to the blow.
  • The use of chin straps is not well supported. There is scant photographic evidence and no convincing archaeological evidence.
  • For further protection, several helmets from the era incorporated solid plates or mail curtains. These protections offer a strong defense against cuts to the head and neck’s sensitive areas. The adoption of additional sturdy cheek and neck protection is also possible.

There is less evidence for finding true facts about the helmets as the Iron was expensive and challenging to produce, which made helmets expensive and therefore uncommon.

What Is The Viking Helmet With Horns Called?

What Is The Viking Helmet With Horns Called?

Since there has been no archeological evidence to support Viking helmets having horns, there is no technical term for a Viking helmet with horns.

Viksø helmets would certainly be fitting. They have prominent horns, symbols that resemble the eyes and beak of a bird of prey, and feathers that have since faded that were likely adhered to the ends of the horns with birch tar. Additionally, each helmet may have had a mane made of horsehair.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Did Vikings put horns on their helmets?

No, there has been no evidence of Vikings putting horns on their helmets.

2. When did Viking helmets get horns?

Nearly 3,000 years ago, in the ancient Near East, and decades before the Vikings or Norse ruled the area, the horned motif dates to the Bronze Age.

3. Who added horns to Viking helmets?

A persistent misconception was developed when costume designer Carl Emil Doepler gave the Viking characters horned helmets for the 1870s production of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” opera cycle.

Check More: Everything About Viking Women’s Clothing

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