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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Spectacle Helm Use/Safety Reply to topic
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Daniel Armstrong




Location: Scotland
Joined: 29 Jan 2011

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 10:25 am    Post subject: Spectacle Helm Use/Safety         Reply with quote

Hi there I am new to this forum and new to combat Re-enactment. I am putting together a generalised 'Viking/Vangarian" kit selection. I have made my shield, weapon and have clothing. However as stated by someone in a post dated 2010, I am looking at Spectacle helms, mainly this one; (but with an addition of a hair plume)

http://www.theknightshop.co.uk/catalog/viking...-2310.html

This helm meets our safety regulations as a group, but like the other poster I am worried about swords and spears hitting the eye rims and being "guided" to my eyes.

As stated in this link (my only source for this) : http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...elmets.htm

Our groups "Master-at-arms" has stated he has never seen this happen, and obviously one should not be getting a spear point anywhere near your face in re-enactment. However I was wanting to ask for anybodys experiences with these helms.

Thank you and I hope to become a regular member here.
-Dan

Men may die, but there is one thing that will never die, and that is the Glory of the Dead!
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome to the forums! Regarding such helmets - well I have been using one like that for about 10 years now, and had no problems at all - think of it - if you got a spear coming into your face with sufficient force for spectacle to "guide it into your eye" it would likely cause you enough harm in any case, and upon hitting the spectacle it might slow down enough to prevent injury. And, yes I am often taking part in mass fights with spear-using oponents who tend to fight in so-called "eastern-european" or "russian" style so fighting is rather intense and hard, and I have never heared of such a helmet causing incident by guiding a spear into eyes.
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject: Re: Spectacle Helm Use/Safety         Reply with quote

Daniel Armstrong wrote:
Hi there I am new to this forum and new to combat Re-enactment. I am putting together a generalised 'Viking/Vangarian" kit selection. I have made my shield, weapon and have clothing. However as stated by someone in a post dated 2010, I am looking at Spectacle helms, mainly this one; (but with an addition of a hair plume)

http://www.theknightshop.co.uk/catalog/viking...-2310.html

This helm meets our safety regulations as a group, but like the other poster I am worried about swords and spears hitting the eye rims and being "guided" to my eyes.

As stated in this link (my only source for this) : http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...elmets.htm

Our groups "Master-at-arms" has stated he has never seen this happen, and obviously one should not be getting a spear point anywhere near your face in re-enactment. However I was wanting to ask for anybodys experiences with these helms.

Thank you and I hope to become a regular member here.
-Dan


Daniel...

The only quote I have seen in the past is the one you cited from Hurstwic. It is almost certainly going to happen in real combat, where the object is to hit or spear your opponent in a vulnerable spot but if the rules of your group stipulate no blows to the face/head, etc., then you may be on safe ground. I would exercise extreme caution in any case and if you do receive blows to the facial area that your Master-at-arms does not see then be sure tell him.

Good luck with your new hobby.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
Joined: 15 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 1:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know what kind of spear your using (steel blunted or rattan) and I'll admit I have no experience with spectacled helms. But even if you were not wearing a spectacled helm the bone around/under your eyes would probably do the exact same thing if it hit it right.
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spectacles could be viewed as a good opportunity to mount a polycarbonate plate. If clean and unscrathed, might not be too visible. Overtly modern, of course, so it all depends on the rules. Fancier versions could use a glass/polycarbonate laminate for scratch resistance, or anti-reflection coating for reduced modern impact.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

Posts: 677

PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo's idea is a good one... I may just have to try it.
I think it's a shame if one can't thrust to ones opponets face, as it really 'nerfs' the effectiveness of a spear or any weapon for that matter.
You could attach maille around the 'neck' area, that way even if a spear gets that high it would get caught.
Are you at least allowed to cut to one anothers head?

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Mikael Andersson




Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Joined: 16 Sep 2009

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat 29 Jan, 2011 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Spectacles could be viewed as a good opportunity to mount a polycarbonate plate. If clean and unscrathed, might not be too visible. Overtly modern, of course, so it all depends on the rules. Fancier versions could use a glass/polycarbonate laminate for scratch resistance, or anti-reflection coating for reduced modern impact.


This is a truly good idea, if you use the helmet only in practice. Many of the larger events in europe (don't know about the uk) like Moesgaard and Wollin won't allow any form of modern protection (visible) since there is alot of spectators around.

I've been fighting in viking reenactment battles since '06 and we have had 2 incidents involving spears to the face, that resulted in real injury. First incident took out a tooth from a guy laying on the ground (guy with the spear stumbled and fell over another dead guy) and the other involved a spear going straight in the eye, in this instance the person was wearing a nasal spangen (the guy dident sustain any permanent injury even if it looked horrible and he needed medical attention. Accident do happen but they are rare indeed. I think you will do fine with "just" the Spectacle helmet. I would on the other hand recommend a good mail aventail (like this for instance http://www.theknightshop.co.uk/catalog/viking...2259.html) to protect your throat and neck since most "head-shots" happen on any of those two locations.

I am assuming that you are fighting with blunted steel weapons.

Good luck!

Guds vän och hela världens fiende Wink
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Daniel Armstrong




Location: Scotland
Joined: 29 Jan 2011

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys for the replys, just for infomation I use blunted Steel weapons. And thanks Mikael Andersson I was considering something like that.

Any more infomation would be great on the use of these helms. Happy

Thanks

Men may die, but there is one thing that will never die, and that is the Glory of the Dead!
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alrighty then! Where is the proof for the assertion that these helmets are dangerous?

Are those who espouse the idea that spectacled helmets increase the danger to one's eyes saying the armourers and warriors who used them were idiots or what? Are we to believe that spectacled helms were merely a fashion statement? Would one expand the argument and assert that the nose guard on Norman style helmets guided weapons to the eye too?

Is there forensic evidence that shows a skull or skulls (preferably still wearing their spectacled helmets LOL!!) from the appropriate period with an injury to the eye socket? Is there a spectacled helmet which shows damage around the spectacles? Is there any documented description of a warrior being injured or killed in such a manner?
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel,

You should ask your group if modern eye protection, such as adding polycarbonate (or a fine steel mesh) to the helm, is acceptable or not.

Personally, I would be very reluctant to go into melee without eye protection. That's the most fragile organ and one of the hardest to heal if hurt... A broken rib doesn't matter much (except hurting like hell for a time), but a spear point, blunted or not, accidentaly hitting the eye...

Accidents may be rare, as has been said, but I find it an unacceptable risk.

As to historical inaccuracy, I don't think it's a very good argument. If you reenact fights without an inaccurate form of eye protection, then this costume accuracy forces you to have a gestures inaccuracy (taking great care not to hit your opponent in the face, which the historical Vikings certainly didn't do). Using more protective gear, as historical as possible (such as a Sutton Hoo type helmet, which covers the whole face, combined with a discrete, modern form of eye protection) will allow for more historical accuracy in the gestures, i.e. less of a stage fight.

PS : perhaps the best solution, if more expensive, would be to have two helms, one for "costume" parts without any kind of modern add-on to show the public how a Viking really looked like, and one for "melee" parts with additional protections. I know some people in reenactment do this.

Quote:
Are those who espouse the idea that spectacled helmets increase the danger to one's eyes saying the armourers and warriors who used them were idiots or what? Are we to believe that spectacled helms were merely a fashion statement? Would one expand the argument and assert that the nose guard on Norman style helmets guided weapons to the eye too?

Is there forensic evidence that shows a skull or skulls (preferably still wearing their spectacled helmets LOL!!) from the appropriate period with an injury to the eye socket? Is there a spectacled helmet which shows damage around the spectacles? Is there any documented description of a warrior being injured or killed in such a manner?

Well, logically, one thing seems for sure : spectacled helmets are good for protecting the eyes against slashes across the face.

As to thursts, it is of course possible that a thrust hitting the spectacles would slide along the steel and go into the eye... But said thrust can also slide the other way, to the outside of the spectacles.

Now that I think about it, adding little steel rims to the spectacles would be a good way to prevent it. Vikings could've done that. I don't remember seeing a Viking helmet with this, though, so very probably they didn't think this possibility was probable enough to bother with it.

Certainly the probability of having a spear point hitting the spectacles and then sliding to go into the eye is in itself smaller than the probability of having a spear point go right into the eye, given that eye holes on "spectacled" helmets are quite big. I'd worry more about that than about points sliding.
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Mikael Andersson




Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Joined: 16 Sep 2009

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As fare as my experience goes a helmet is a good investment. I have never heard or seen anything about a helmet would be flawed and therefore cause more accidents. The spectacle helmet covers more of the face then a spangen helm and thus protects better, with the drawback of a narrower field of view (and is in many cases heavier). Personally i fight without helmet and armour, but thats my choice. I do on the other hand use padding for my throat and neck.

After all in the current system for Viking reenactment battles (most medieval group don't use the same system since it doesn't give enough benefit to heavy armour) the only piece of protection that is required is gloves (at least in the nordic countrys) and most fighters don't even bruise you when they hit you. This is the system or ruleset called "Western style" and not the heavier style they use in many Slavic countries.

But as previously stated accidents do happen and a helmet is sure to give you good protection from many unnecessary injuries. You should also know that in many countries like Germany and Poland (at least on the markets i've visited) you are required to wear a helmet on the field. As a added bonus you look cool in a nice helmet! Cool

Guds vän och hela världens fiende Wink
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William R. Short




Location: New England
Joined: 14 May 2007

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject: Re: Spectacle Helm Use/Safety         Reply with quote

Daniel Armstrong wrote:
This helm meets our safety regulations as a group, but like the other poster I am worried about swords and spears hitting the eye rims and being "guided" to my eyes.

As stated in this link (my only source for this) : http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...elmets.htm


I'm the fellow who wrote those words, as a result of a conversation with a European re-enactor I met in Iceland, probably in 2003-2004. His group had an eye-injury due to a spectacle helmet. I had never thought much about it, so when I got home, I put one on a stand and jabbed a spear at it. It seemed that a near miss was turned into a "bullseye" by the eye openings. Thus, I wrote the comments. Yet, the most notable spectacle helmet (from Gjermundbu) has clear evidence of battle damage, so either the Viking-age people who used these helmets didn't perceive any additional risk, or the additional risk was worth the benefits offered by the spectacle guard. Thanks for the comments, and I'll plan to update the wording of the Hurstwic article to make more clear the speculative nature of these comments.

Best regards,
William Short
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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sun 30 Jan, 2011 8:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Spectacle Helm Use/Safety         Reply with quote

I am directly aware of at least two incidents of this type of thing happening (as in i was at the event and am certain of the details).

A spectacle-helm does have a tendency of converting a cheek strike by a blunt spear into a hit into the eye. This is not helped by the fact that few reproductions have outward flared sockets (as is seen commonly on later greathelms) or by the fact that the majority of reenactment eye slits are bigger than they should be.

Frankly in re-enactment combat no spear should ever be going anywhere near the face (especially in an upward or level profile, the butt should always be angled above the tip), but accidents happen and this style of helm does not help.

I do not wear one for this very reason, but frankly the added risk is probably described as minimal so YMMV but if it worried you then why not go with a plain old spangenhelm?

If you don't mind sharing details of your group (Regia? Vike? or one of the other scottish groups), it's always nice to know who is playing with who.

HTH
N

Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.
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Daniel Armstrong




Location: Scotland
Joined: 29 Jan 2011

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Guys! Especially William R. Short as the website has been a great help.

I believe what I am intending to do is purchase a spectacle helm, with a cloif/avalitail (sorry for spelling), and wear a set of low profile safety glasses under it. I could purchase a spangenhelm but my group has these spare for when i require to go from Viking to Saxon Huscarl for different gigs.

To the people wondering about my group, I'm a member of a small independant re-enactment group called the "Kights of Monymusk". We only do about 7 gigs per year but I have good friends involved with this goup so I am looking forward to joining them on the field Big Grin .

Thanks again guys - Dan

Men may die, but there is one thing that will never die, and that is the Glory of the Dead!
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Nathan F




Location: ireland
Joined: 24 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

just my thought but if you were even wearing a plain nasal it still would guide a spear towards your eyes as they are often made with a middle ridge in them so i mean unless someone is aiming for your eyes it should not happen. i have used spectacle helms for years as have many others in my group and have never gained an injury in fact mine saved me from a broken cheek bone.
worst injury i got was getting hit on the head when it hand no padding but was both my fault and the guy who did it.

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jan, 2011 12:17 pm    Post subject: spectacle helm         Reply with quote

Hi

Just my tuppence worth, it hs been my own experiance after many years of fighting re-enactment style using a variety of spectacle helms never to have experianced an eye injury, but of course that does not mean it could never happen to any one else.

As an aside perhaps you might consider some friendly advice and save for a little time and purchase a more authentic looking spectacle helm, I'm not saying it will not be 'fit for purpose', but there are better looking production line helms available...but of course this is just my opinion!

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Daniel Armstrong




Location: Scotland
Joined: 29 Jan 2011

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 6:42 am    Post subject: Re: spectacle helm         Reply with quote

David Huggins wrote:
As an aside perhaps you might consider some friendly advice and save for a little time and purchase a more authentic looking spectacle helm


Thanks Dave have you any examples, I just perticularly like the look of this GDFB version.
Thanks.

Men may die, but there is one thing that will never die, and that is the Glory of the Dead!
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Tue 01 Feb, 2011 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Daniel

The spectacle helm you have chosen is essentially basedon the Gjermundbu helm

Here is in my opinion a better example
http://shop.strato.de/epages/61540797.sf/de_D...ducts/4015

Or if the above is to expensive for your budget try this
http://www.theknightshop.co.uk/catalog/gjermu...-p-532.htm

I'm a big believer in getting your civilian basic kit as acurate as possible and then work up to a decent representation of a helm, shield, spear and shield etc of the period. I think you will be happier with the end result and patience will always pay dividends.

Good wyrd with your new hobby...and stay safe

Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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