One of the most common stereotypes associated with “Vikings” is that they wore horned helms.
The other most common misconception is calling them “Vikings,” but that is another argument.
Viking was something they did, not who they were. They were the Norse and went viking.
Norse helms never had horns on them.
Contrary to the popular belief that Vikings wore horned helmets, there is no evidence that this ever happened.
The horned and winged helmets were an invention of 19th century art and theater. If you think about it, as cool as a horned helm looks, it would be extremely impractical to wear in battle. It would not deflect blows, but rather ‘catch’ them. The horns would catch everything a wearer walked past. Wearing a horned or winged helmet would be a nightmare. No warrior in their right mind would ever were anything like that.
The real Norse / Viking helm was usually made from four plates of iron in the shape of a rounded cap in the spangenhelm pattern with an iron “spectacle” visor that formed around the eyes and over the nose.
Some Helms were made of a simpler pattern with a peaked top and had just a piece of iron as a nose guard, instead of a full visor. This style of helmet was more practical and functional.
The Norse helm had a peak and was smooth, this would deflect a blow much better. The nose guard protected the face. A helm wasn’t worn by itself but you generally had padding to absorb blows and a chain mail coif to protect the neck and sides of the face from slashes.
Some spangenhelms had a chain mail coif attached to the sides of the helm that would drop down to protect the wearer’s neck. This was for those not wearing a full chain mail coif underneath the helmet. This was in addition to a thick cap worn under the helm for padding to absorb the shock of any blows to the head.
Information Source: Kane, Njord. The Vikings: The Story of a People. Yukon: Spangenhelm, 2015. Print.
by Njord Kane © 2016 Spangenhelm Publishing
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