Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Coifs, Aventails, and Nasals? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Tue 10 Sep, 2013 4:03 pm    Post subject: Coifs, Aventails, and Nasals?         Reply with quote

Hi all, I've got a few questions that somebody here might be able to help me with.

I'm sure that everyone here is well aware that the mail coif was in wide use by 1066, but is there any evidence of It's use in the preceding "Viking Age"?

2 common features on modern day Viking style helms are aventails and nasals, but is there any pictorial evidence from the period of their use? I am aware that the Gjermundbu helm probably had an aventail, but to me this helm seems to be an example of an old piece of equipment being handed down through the years. If I had to put a date on it I'd say 8th century, but I have no way of prooving this, and I'm far from any kind of expert.

Any thoughts on these questions would be most welcome.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Eric Rosenlof




Location: OR, USA
Joined: 29 Aug 2013

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed 11 Sep, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, Jason. When you say Viking Age, are you referring to the time period only, or the time period and a certain geographical region? For example, the Normans and some others may have been using mail coifs (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) during the later Viking Age, but they may not have been widely used in Viking Age Norway, especially not among peasant classes. As for mail aventails, those appear on earlier helmets, and there are certainly archeological examples like Vendel and Valsgarde, from the 5th to early 8th (?) centuries, where some helmets had mail aventails, and Valsgarde 8 has a full mail curtain; though that to me is a unique find, and very reminiscent of the more easterly cataphracts of the same period. There are also other spangenhelms with aventails from roughly around the same time (see chalon helmet). Since many of these finds predate the Viking Age, I would venture that it's reasonable to assume that aventails were in at least some use during the entire Viking Age. Keep in mind that Viking Age armor seems less ornamented than earlier armor--there are many discussions about this.

As for the nasals, they seem to have been in wide use by helmeted warriors over a wide swath of both time period and geographical area. It seems to me that the nasals on many "Norman" and "Viking" spangens descended from the nasals on earlier spangens such as the ones mentioned earlier, which may have themselves descended from late Roman cavalry helmets. You are also probably aware that "Vikings" would wear a conical helm with a nasal if they could get a hold of one. As for when the spectacled helmets go out of use, my guess is sometime during the later Viking Age (I am curious as to the connection between the older heathen belief that it was wise to hide one's identity from an enemy, hence extensive spectacles, masks, mail curtains; although masks and mail curtains were in use by many cultures. In any case, it seems as if the spectacled Gjermundbu-type helmet was almost vestigial compared to the "war-masks" of earlier times...perhaps with the decline of the old beliefs?) <---keep in mind that this is only speculation on my part. Long story short, nasals were a common feature on helms from late antiquity to the high middle ages.

As for period illustrations, I'm not very familiar with manuscript illustrations, if that's what you're looking for. There are pressbleches from the Vendel/Merovingian period which feature warriors in crested helms with combinations of face-masks, cheek-guards, neck-guards. There are a few decorative foils (see Vendel 14) in which warriors could be wearing mail aventails (and a tusk?), but all of the decorative foils are somewhat abstracted. There are also some picture stones from the Viking Age which depict helmeted warriors, though at least one (Middleton, Yorkshire, beneath the cross) shows a warrior with a conical helm and a nasal. See also the Wenceslas and Gnezdovo helmets.
You may be correct in your assessment that the Gjermundbu helm was handed down from earlier generations. As far as I know, the helmet was dated to middle to later Viking Age, about 9-10th century (again, someone correct me if I'm wrong); but there are stories about weapons being handed down and/or reconstituted as something else (say a sword to a spear); and since weapons and armor were very likely highly prized, in my opinion there is no reason to think that a good helmet wouldn't have lasted for generations, perhaps a hundred years or more.

Hope this helps, and perhaps we will also hear from more knowledgeable fellows. There are many great discussions on this very website concerning this subject.
View user's profile Send private message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Wed 11 Sep, 2013 4:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Eric for your thorough reply. The time and place I'm interested in is Western and Northern Europe, during the 9th and 10th centuries. I put Viking Age in quotation marks as that is the popular term for this time period, though of course there was a lot more than just Viking raids going on during this time. I am aware that coifs, aventails, and nasals were used during the late Roman, and migration periods, and on some level I agree that it is reasonable to assume that they continued into the period in question, but I have yet to find any proof (except for the aventail on the Gjermundbu helm). I believe the Gjermundbu helm was found in a late 10th century grave, though stylistically it looks more like a late Vendel period piece. I have read some theories that though weapons were buried with the dead, armour tended to be passed on, and that is why we have found so few helms. So this is a possible explanation why an older helm found its way into a 10th century burial.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Likes: 110 pages
Reading list: 18 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,147

PostPosted: Sun 22 Sep, 2013 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jason, take a look at these early 10th century images from Germany

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?manuscript=4887

Look for the helms which have fallen off their owners heads. They appear to have nasals, and look very much like the helms depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Éirinn go Brách
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,263

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Manuscript Miniatures has a number of examples from 9th and 10th century sources, but I haven't noticed any coifs or mail aventails. Byzantine sources show some sort of lamellar, scale or pteruge-like neck guards.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?year=...anuscript=

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
View user's profile Send private message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Stephen and Mart for your replies. I'm aware of the manuscripts and miniatures site, and have looked though it many times. Mart, unfortunately these Byzantine images are a little too far East for me, I'm looking for Western sources only. Stephen, I've seen these images before, but never noticed the helms that have fallen to the ground. They do seem to be nasaled spangenhelms, but it's interesting that none of the helms on the riders have a nasal, artistic convention perhaps?

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason O C wrote:
Thanks Stephen and Mart for your replies. I'm aware of the manuscripts and miniatures site, and have looked though it many times. Mart, unfortunately these Byzantine images are a little too far East for me, I'm looking for Western sources only. Stephen, I've seen these images before, but never noticed the helms that have fallen to the ground. They do seem to be nasaled spangenhelms, but it's interesting that none of the helms on the riders have a nasal, artistic convention perhaps?

Jason

I'm not sure I would be comfortable calling Byzantium "Far East" in the 10th C. They are practically the Center of the World at the time, and vastly influential to Western Europe. Fashions and styles in Constantinople definitely have their effect on Western Europe through at least the beginning of the Crusades, and there is alot of trade going on.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Charles Neeley




Location: COLORADO
Joined: 30 Jan 2011
Likes: 16 pages

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is new information from an old known dig, the Gammla Uppsalla, posted on Facebook by the Wulfheodenas LH group just this week.

http://projektwebbar.lansstyrelsen.se/arkeolo...4.facebook

Translated: '' In one of the 90 cremations that archaeologists examined in Gamla Uppsala last summer found a small lump of iron, who did not look like much. But when it ended up in the curator Karin Lindahl's hands, revealed its secret.

When the object X-rayed namely could see tiny rings - this was nothing less than a ringväv.

- Ringväv used to chain mail in order to protect the body, but it could also be attached to the helmet with neck protection, says archaeologist Anton Seiler.

How such a neck and neck protection may have been attached, it can be seen on a helmet that was found in a boat grave in Valsgärde, just a few miles from Old Uppsala.

In the same grave as iron nugget ring with fabric found, were also discovered numerous glass beads - something that otherwise usually found in women's graves. But even men could be buried with beads.

- There are different theories about how the men brought the pearls - they may have been attached to the thin leather straps or worn in the hair or beard, says Anton.

Still have osteologerna not gone through the bone material from the grave, so we do not know if it's a male or female grave - or if there even is a double funeral.''
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 3:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
I'm not sure I would be comfortable calling Byzantium "Far East" in the 10th C. They are practically the Center of the World at the time, and vastly influential to Western Europe. Fashions and styles in Constantinople definitely have their effect on Western Europe through at least the beginning of the Crusades, and there is alot of trade going on.


Hi Robin, I didn't mean "far east" as in the modern sense. What I meant is that Eastern, and South Eastern Europe has has always seemed to me a bit of a melting pot of European and Asian styles, and I'm don't know if we can be sure that helmet styles from this region made it to Western Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries. If we take the Gnezdovo helm as an example, It's a (10th century Rus) conical spangenhelm with nasal and aventail. No helm like this has been found in Western Europe. The closest we have are the "Norman" style conical nasal helms from the 11th and 12th centuries, and by this time the aventail had been replaced with the coif. So without physical evidence, all we have are literal and iconographic sources, and all the images that I've seen points to helms without nasals, or any form of neck protection, in use in Western Europe between 800 and 1000 AD.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Likes: 110 pages
Reading list: 18 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,147

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Jason there is a slight problem with the illustrations from your chosen time period. The problem is that most of the illuminated manuscripts from this time, seem to be copies of works from the late Roman, early Byzantine period. Here are 2 images from 11th century France, which show conical helms with nasals and aventails. Perhaps these could be referred to as late Viking age?

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?manuscript=4368

Also what about the helm of Saint Wenceslas, isn't that supposed to be 10th century?

Éirinn go Brách
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen, thanks for sharing these images. I had seen the first one before, but I wasn't sure whether it was mail aventails or coifs being depicted. Fortunately the second image clearly shows that it is an aventail. As far as the helm attributed to St Wenceslas goes. I don't think any consensus has been reached as to It's date. I think that most agree that the nasal was added at some point, and not originally part of the helm.

I'm beginning to form some sort of idea of the development of helms, before, during, and after the "viking age". In the 6th and 7th centuries we have the Vendel/Valsgarde style (descended from late Roman ridge helms). Then in the 8th century we get hemispherical spangenhelms, like the Benty Grange, Coppergate, and Pioneer helms. It's my belief that the Gjermundbu helm is also from this transitional period, between Vendel and Viking Ages. Then at some point during the 9th or 10th centuries conical spangenhelms were brought from the East to Western Europe. At first these conical helms were used alongside the hemispherical ones, and some, but not all, probably had nasals and aventails. Then by the 11th century the hemispherical spangenhelm is gone, and some of the conical are being made from a single piece of iron. Aventails seem to make it into this century, but were replaced at some point by the coif. This is how I see things at moment anyway, I could be very mistaken on a lot of things.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi guys. Here is another question for you all that I'd appreciate some assistance with. Why do you guys think that the aventail was replaced with the coif in the 11th century, only to regain its popularity in the 14th century?

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,263

PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, a bump to an old post....

I think it's worth noting that the coif in the 11th century is not a separate hood, but is attached to the body armor. In fact, the attached hood might be the very origin of the word hauberk, distinguishing it from the broigne or byrnie.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hauberk
Quote:
hauberk (n.)
from Old French hauberc "coat of mail," earlier holberc, from Frankish *halsberg or a similar Germanic source, literally "neck-cover" (cognates: Old English halsbearh, Old High German halsberc), from *hals "neck" (from Proto-Germanic *h(w)als-, from PIE *kwolso-; see collar (n.)) + *bergan "to cover, protect"


We first start seeing definitive separate mail coifs in the art around the end of the 12th century. By the time aventails begin to appear on bascinets around the year 1300, there had been an additional neck protection for nearly a century, sometimes worn beneath, and other times over the mail. These additional neck defenses are often found beneath the bascinet's aventail.

If we look at the finds from Wisby in 1361, we find the mail coif (some might be coifettes) to be the most common armor recovered with over 200 finds. I think the mail coif might have served as the sole protection for the neck and sides of the head for those wearing kettle hats. The earliest documentation that I've seen for an aventail on a kettle hat is from 1397.

So the early curtain-aventail was replaced by an attached mail coif as hauberks became more available, offering some neck protection even without a helmet. Additional neck defenses begin to be worn with the mail coif as the great helm develops. As the bascinet replaces the great helm, and pairs of plates supplement the haubergeon, the mail aventail appears on the bascinet while additional throat defenses remain and are improved upon.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
View user's profile Send private message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart. Thanks for the reply. Yes I bumped my old topic with a new question, for two reasons. 1) it's related to my original questions, so I wasn't sure if it deserved a new thread, and 2) it's gives people who may not have seen this thread a chance to comment.

A couple of follow up questions Mart I'd you don't mind. do you know when is the earliest reference to the word hauberk? What is a coifette? I assume it's a smaller version of a coif. Do you have an image of one of these coifettes?
Also if I understand you correctly, you think that the reason that the integral coif replaced the aventail in the 11th century, is because a hauberk with integral coif could protect the head and neck with or without a helm? Thanks in advance.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,263

PostPosted: Fri 18 Dec, 2015 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen mid-12th century French and Provencal literature using hauberc as distinct from the broigne. Unfortunately, most of the earlier literature tends to be in Latin, where the most common descriptor is lorica, so I'm not sure when the earliest written references to hauberks occurs.

Here's a coifette, Musee de l'Armee H5, and one of the Wisby finds. How much loss occured on this example from the mass grave is unknown, so it could be a coif or coifette, in my opinion.



 Attachment: 63.42 KB
Mus. de l'Armee Inv. No. H5.jpg


 Attachment: 90.27 KB
Wisby coifette-5.jpg


ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
View user's profile Send private message
Jason O C





Joined: 20 Oct 2012

Posts: 114

PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 2:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again Mart.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Likes: 110 pages
Reading list: 18 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,147

PostPosted: Sat 19 Dec, 2015 2:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason O C wrote:
Hi guys. Here is another question for you all that I'd appreciate some assistance with. Why do you guys think that the aventail was replaced with the coif in the 11th century, only to regain its popularity in the 14th century?

Jason


Well having a helm over a coif means having two layers of iron on your head. Later three layers would be worn, a coif, a cervelliere, and a helm.

Éirinn go Brách
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 109

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been thinking about his issue as well and the Viking age is defined as beginning with the attack on Lindisfarne in 793 and ending in 1066 at Stamford Bridge. After looking at a bunch of illustrations, one of the best of which is the Bayeux Tapestry it is firstly pretty certain that coifs were in use during the Viking age and must have been in use for the last few decades of that period. Secondly I'm not at all convinced that there is rock solid evidence that integral coifs preceded separate ones. Looking at the tapestry it seems to me that some of the warriors depicted there are wearing integral coifs, some are wearing what looks like separate coifs and a some may be wearing 'curtain' type aventails or helmets with plate neck guards.

As for the Vikings wearing coifs, I'm sure some of them did by the last decade before the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings. Vikings served in the English and probably also as mercenaries in German armies and both these nations used coifs in some form by the 11th century so it seems to me that it is very probable that at least some Vikings used coifs of some type by the period of 1000-1066. The Danes in particular were in close contact with both the Germans and English during the first half of the 11th century and must have picked up on the idea of a chain mail hood pretty quickly (according to books I have read some of Godwinson's Housecarls were actually Danish and thus technically 'Vikings').

When I gdfb as a late Viking warrior I don't have any pangs about wearing a mail coif over a padded arming cap and topping it off with an Olmutz helmet. Firstly because the coif and cap might save me from unnecessary injury and second because historically I think it is perfectly plausible even if the occasional dissenter tells me it is not period correct for a Viking to wear a coif or for that matter padded armour by 1066.

Anyway, I found this interesting article on the subject and I hope it may be of use to somebody pondering this issue:
http://www.angelfire.com/empire/egfroth/HastingsCoifs.htm

The Bayeux tapestry:
http://hastings1066.com/baythumb.shtml
View user's profile Send private message
Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,263

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kristjan Runarsson wrote:
Anyway, I found this interesting article on the subject and I hope it may be of use to somebody pondering this issue:
http://www.angelfire.com/empire/egfroth/HastingsCoifs.htm


It is worth noting the sculptural evidence he uses for evidence for a separate coif is seriously flawed. The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre d'Angoulême was consecrated in 1128, and contains some friezes depicting the Song of Roland which date from it's construction.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Angoul%C3%AAme_-_Cath%C3%A9drale_-_Chanson_de_Roland_-1.JPG
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Angoul%C3%AAme_-_Cath%C3%A9drale_-_Chanson_de_Roland_3.JPG

Unfortunately, the figure which shows the separate coif was part of a "restoration" by Paul Abadie performed in the late 1800s. The stylistic differences, as well as the differences in wear on the stone are quite evident.
http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-...pierre.jpg

Likewise, studying the Bayeux "tapestry" in isolation is bound to cause frustration and confusion. When compared with other contemporary sources such as sculpture or manuscripts, it is possible to develop a more clear understanding.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
View user's profile Send private message
Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 109

PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2016 3:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That may be but was that statue carved and added in the 1800s? or was it original to the church and just cleaned up? Also, cathedrals tended to take a looooong time to build. Construction began on the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre d'Angoulême in 1100. Just because the thing was consecrated in 1128 that does not mean the carving was made in 1127. It was could have been made a decade or more earlier *IF* it is part of the original church decorations (big if in this case).

But this (quite valid) point aside, I still agree with his assessment of the illustrations on the Bayeux tapestry and I am still wondering where the idea came from that the evolution of the coif went:

Since c.a Roman times, 'curtain' aventails --> Since at least 1066, coifs/hoods integral to the mail shirt --> After c.a. 12-1300: separate coifs/hoods.

I just got through reading a research paper that stated that there is not a single mail shirt with an integrated coif that survives. So if that is true the only evidence for their existence is from art whereas there is at least one separate coif carbon dated to the 1250s and there are illustrations and statues showing separate coifs as early as the 1150s if we disregard the Bayeux tapestry.

This can be debated at nauseam. I for one am not going to kick somebody out of a reenactment event on grounds of him being using inaccurate gear because he wears a coif, separate or not. There are enough people wearing 5th and 6th century helmets that nobody sees to have a problem with being worn by an 8th-11th century 'Viking'.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Coifs, Aventails, and Nasals?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum