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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 10:38 am    Post subject: Norman Helmet         Reply with quote

I can't vouch four the authenticity of this item, but a place in the UK selling antiquities had a Norman helmet, thought to date from the 11th century, up for sale. It is now sold, but the website has an excellent photo of the helmet and fairly detailed information on its construction, for those who are interested.

http://time-lines.co.uk/norman-four-plate-riv...032-0.html
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To make this topic not die a horrible death if the link expires, I'll add the text and photo from the site:


Text from TimeLine Auctions Ltd:

Norman Four-Plate Rivetted Spangenhelm Helmet 010572

Extremely Rare Norman 'Four-Plate' Rivetted Spangenhelm Helmet

Iron, 1.71 Kg, 39 cm high inc stand; helmet only 210 mm rim to apex. circa 175 mm diameter at base. Circa 11th century AD. The present helmet is fabricated from four triangular iron plates skillfully made to accommodate the curvature of the human head and with a slight point at the apex. The plates are contoured so that the front and back plates overlap the side-plates by 1-2 cm; iron rivets pass through this overlap to secure them in position. The rivets are worked flat into the surface of the helmet, and are almost invsible from the outside but can be detected on the inner surface. The inverted lower rim is furnished with an additional series of rivets, probably to accommodate a lining. There are two empty rivet-holes at the base of the side-plates, where the cheek-plates were originally attached. The plate-junction at the apex is left slightly open, allowing a plume or horsehair streamer to be inserted or a covering plate to be attached. Helmets of this general profile and with some form of conical crest are a long-lived military fashion in the Black Sea region and appear in designs on the bone facing of a Khazar saddle of 7th-8th century date from the Shilovskiy gravefield (Samara region). A similar helmet (of presumed 5th century AD date) is housed in the St. Petersburg Musum (inventory reference PA72), previously in the MVF Berlin until 1945 under inventory ref.IIId 1789i. The rivetted-plate construction is known across Europe from the Migration Period through to the 12th century: it is this form which appears on the heads of English and Norman warriors in the Bayeux tapestry. Reference: Curtis, H. M., 2,500 Years of European Helmets, North Hollywood, 1978; Denny, N. & Filmer-Sankey, J., The Bayeux Tapestry, London, 1966; Kirpicnikow, A. N., “Russische Helme aus dem Frühen Mittelalter”, Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 3rd Series, Vol. 15, pt. 2, 1973; Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period - Europe Without Borders, Berlin, 2007, p.326-7 item I.34.4. Professionally cleaned and stabilized and in very fine condition, including a custom made display stand. Ex an old private collection. A full report from I. Eaves, Arms and Armour Consultant, and an XRF ancient metal test certificate from Oxford X-ray Fluorescence Ltd accompanies the piece.



 Attachment: 1.13 MB
Norman Four-Plate Rivetted Spangenhelm Helmet 010572

Copyright TimeLine Auctions Ltd
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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you gentlemen.
"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Paul Mortimer




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as can be ascertained - the helmet is genuine. I have seen it and handled it. I know the seller - he deals with many clients including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Not sure it is as late as the Norman period, myself.

Paul
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Mortimer wrote:
As far as can be ascertained - the helmet is genuine. I have seen it and handled it. I know the seller - he deals with many clients including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Not sure it is as late as the Norman period, myself.

Paul


Isn't there a nasal?

I like the pitting a lot, it would be difficult to fake it like this.

It looks like run of the mill museum pitting ...
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Hisham Gaballa





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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 12:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've often seen similar helmets on the Herman Historica website. While they are undoubtedly old, they come from different provenances.
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm58...at58_a.txt
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm54...at54_a.txt
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm52...at52_A.txt

Unless the actual dig where it was excavated was documented, published in a reputable scientific journal and in Normandy, it's hard to describe it as Norman. It could be from anywhere from Portugal to Outer Mongolia. The same goes for the age; the helmet on its own is out context, it could be 6th or 16th century. The age can be estimated from the circumstances of the excavation, from how deep down it was, what was around it, what other objects were found at the same level. IMO the same applies to the Herman Historica helmets by the way. I'm not trying to be a spoilsport, just cautious, and hopefully not too condescending or obvious. Happy
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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't find the picture in mind on the web at the moment but there's a very similar helm found in the Themsen river. Only difference is that the Themsen one has a nasal in the middle of one of the plates. There are also several russian and mongolian finds that are very similar. However if it's a "norman" helm or originating from another culture I leave unsaid.
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Ed McV




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 6:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its too bad they did not try cathodic reduction on the helmet when it was found as given the right circumstances it may have been brought back to a much better condition. Too often on a dig they rush the process and scrape off all the surrounding material. X-Ray the whole thing deposits and all to determine what metallic material exists. Then.....
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2010 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hisham Gaballa wrote:
I've often seen similar helmets on the Herman Historica website. While they are undoubtedly old, they come from different provenances.
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm58...at58_a.txt
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm54...at54_a.txt
http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion/hhm52...at52_A.txt

Unless the actual dig where it was excavated was documented, published in a reputable scientific journal and in Normandy, it's hard to describe it as Norman. It could be from anywhere from Portugal to Outer Mongolia. The same goes for the age; the helmet on its own is out context, it could be 6th or 16th century. The age can be estimated from the circumstances of the excavation, from how deep down it was, what was around it, what other objects were found at the same level. IMO the same applies to the Herman Historica helmets by the way. I'm not trying to be a spoilsport, just cautious, and hopefully not too condescending or obvious. Happy


Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.

Judging by the onion top shape I would dare call it quite hypothetically an helmet coming from "Eurasia", i.e. from a place where european and asian peoples met as in early Russia.

Calling it a norman does increase the market value of the item as it evokes the early century of euroepan chivalry and a focal point of english histoy, while a Khazar or Rus or Serbian attribution would surely cater to a lesser group of collectors.

Alas in collecting there is this problem of mythical periods that are sought after by collectors, without regard for the actual historical value of the pieces.

It is the foolish behavior of collectors for which a paratrooper helmet industrially produced in Germany in 1940 gets as much as handcrafted items from earlier epochs.

It is as if collectors were appropriating of the bravery of the men who used such items in battle by buying such items.

Sadly this isn't possible, while people who just collect because of their love for history become damaged by disposition of fetishist collectors towards giving any price to become what they are not.

Back to the topic, I would enjoy such item even if it had never belonged to a norman knight steering the history of Engelond, having instead sat "just" on the head of a lesser known steppe warrior.


Last edited by Bruno Giordan on Thu 07 Jan, 2010 1:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2010 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.


According to the auction text there are rivet holes where cheekplates used to be attached. Was there ever such a thing as a spangenhelm with cheekplates but without nasal?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2010 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.


I realize that, in all probability, this is helmet is not a Norman helmet from the 11th century. However, I am pretty sure there are examples in 11th century artwork of similar helmets being worn by western Europeans without a nasal and cheekplates.
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Nathan Beal





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2010 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.


Sorry Bruno i can't agree with you here;

Cheekplates are not really a common feature of the illustrations we see in western Europe during this period, though they are not beyond the realm of possibility either (the lewis chessmen have what appear to be cheekplates).

There are illustrations that show helms both with and without nasals so i don't think we could say either way on that one.

Without secure, detailed provenance I wouldn't trust this item to be genuine, a 'certificate of authenticity' means nothing. I would love it to be genuine (as we have so few helmets from this period to work with).

2d
N.

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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2010 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is that company related to the infamous Eftis in any way? I am just curious as the descriptions seem reminiscent of his.
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(please don't take my words as saying the company is related, I am asking if it is)

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Paul Mortimer




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2010 3:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Is that company related to the infamous Eftis in any way?


No.

Paul
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2010 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Beal wrote:
Bruno Giordan wrote:
Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.


Sorry Bruno i can't agree with you here;

Cheekplates are not really a common feature of the illustrations we see in western Europe during this period, though they are not beyond the realm of possibility either (the lewis chessmen have what appear to be cheekplates).

There are illustrations that show helms both with and without nasals so i don't think we could say either way on that one.

Without secure, detailed provenance I wouldn't trust this item to be genuine, a 'certificate of authenticity' means nothing. I would love it to be genuine (as we have so few helmets from this period to work with).

2d
N.


Apart from the Lewis pieces there are no examples of medieval "norman" helmets with cheekplates. Instead many are depicted without nasal. No cheekplates though.

As for France and Northern italy we used helmets shaped somehow like phrygian caps as well, even if there are not examples. In Brescia we have an helm that closely resembles the Posen helm, especially for the dome section.

Maybe an earlier european helmet, but not that epoch.

Stilistically probably eastern european for its onion shaped top.

Obviously a detailed and documented provenance remains crucial. Strangely enough it is not given.
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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Mar, 2012 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know this thread has been inactive for a while, but it relates to a topic I have been doing research on, and I thought my input might by of use to anyone still curious.

The helmet's seller may have claimed that the helmet had rivet holes for missing cheek-plates, but they were not for cheek-plates. A single hole on each side could only be for a chin-strap, and can be seen on all of the four-plate helmets of similar construction.

One helmet of similar construction has indeed been recovered from France, and is dated to the 10th or 11th centuries (whether associated with other items from the 11th century, I do not know), though it is unfortunate that the provenance of most other pieces is poorly recorded, or at least poorly published. However, contemporary pictorial references from the 11th century do closely resemble this style of helmet. Among helmets worn by Norman cavalry depicted on the Bayeux tapestry, many appear to be divided into four plates with no indication of a spangen frame, as popularly supposed. Variations are depicted, some with a band around the base of the helmet, and at least one with a ring at the top, from which it could have been hung. Several depictions can also be seen of helmets which resemble those more frequently unearthed in Eastern Europe, made of 8 plates and with one or more conical additions at the apex. A helmet in this style has been unearthed in the grave fields of Kazazovo.

The lack of a nasal guard extant on many of the excavated examples is problematic, though loss is not unlikely. The deterioration of the metal at the helmet's base makes it next to impossible to ascertain if there had been something there, though at least one example, similar in all other regards, still retains a nasal guard, as Eric mentioned. The nasal in that example is integral with the frontal plate.
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Jojo Zerach





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PostPosted: Sat 24 Mar, 2012 7:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sander Marechal wrote:
Bruno Giordan wrote:
Agreed, the lack of a nasal and cheekplates would for sure rule out a european helmet of the eleventh century, it should be older and related to migration period people.


According to the auction text there are rivet holes where cheekplates used to be attached. Was there ever such a thing as a spangenhelm with cheekplates but without nasal?


Technically, I don' think it'd be a spangenhelm, since it has no frame.
It's constructed like those Japanese helmets.
Neat find, either way.
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