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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2016 1:31 pm    Post subject: Viking age arming coifs/hats?         Reply with quote

Any evidence of wealthy Scandinavians or Anglo-Saxons wearing padding under their helmets?
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 1:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Helmets are pretty useless without some kind of padding/suspension.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Helmets are pretty useless without some kind of padding/suspension.


I know, which is why i am asking Happy
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Baard H




Location: Norway
Joined: 13 Mar 2013

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Fri 22 Apr, 2016 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends on if they are supposed to deflect blows or absorb them though. Even when we know for sure they had padding this is often much thinner than most people expect.
Whether for defence against blows or not, some sort of layer between the skull and the helmet probably was worn though, if only a woolen cap. Having a steel hat pushing directly at your head isn't the most pleasurable experience Wink

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mćki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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T L Scull




Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2016 1:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Viking age arming coifs/hats?         Reply with quote

Ísleifur Helgason wrote:
Any evidence of wealthy Scandinavians or Anglo-Saxons wearing padding under their helmets?

I don't think that there has been any direct evidence ever found, archeologically speaking, as any paddings would have been organic materials and have long since decomposed. I do think that maybe some literary evidence may exist in the sagas though. I think it is believed that sheepskin/wool/fleece was likely used, possibly in combination with other materials.

When the natural order again returns, the cream of the crop will rise again to the top!
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 495

PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2016 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't be surprised if padding was a wool hat and their bundled up hair. The viking era didn't possess many mass weapons and I think North men wore their hair long, so that acts like pseudo padding.
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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2016 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if padding was a wool hat and their bundled up hair. The viking era didn't possess many mass weapons and I think North men wore their hair long, so that acts like pseudo padding.


But they had mass clothing and padding is only clothing. Since a helmet is almost useless without padding, i would be really surprised if they didn't use any.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 495

PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2016 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ísleifur Helgason wrote:
Philip Dyer wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if padding was a wool hat and their bundled up hair. The viking era didn't possess many mass weapons and I think North men wore their hair long, so that acts like pseudo padding.


But they had mass clothing and padding is only clothing. Since a helmet is almost useless without padding, i would be really surprised if they didn't use any.

Yeah, what I was stating is didn't have dedicated shock absorbing garments because maces weren't in widespread use. The most common mass weapon was the hand axe, and allot of Viking axe cross sections actually show that they were made to essentially be cheap alternative to a sword, thin and wide in head, not narrow and thick headed, like axes designed to send shock through armor or hit rigid parts. The other common weapons were spears, seaxes, and swords, all not mass weapons. Later on, starting in the end of the Viking age and in the High Middle ages, we see different axe designs, baculums, and flanged maces, more percussive orientated weapons, thus more dedicated padded garments where developed. The coifs could still be a bit on the thin side because many people still liked to grow there hair out and one piece skullcaps where more common, meaning the common warrior had stronger helmet that the most common fighter in the Viking age. .
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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Ísleifur Helgason wrote:
Philip Dyer wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if padding was a wool hat and their bundled up hair. The viking era didn't possess many mass weapons and I think North men wore their hair long, so that acts like pseudo padding.


But they had mass clothing and padding is only clothing. Since a helmet is almost useless without padding, i would be really surprised if they didn't use any.

Yeah, what I was stating is didn't have dedicated shock absorbing garments because maces weren't in widespread use. The most common mass weapon was the hand axe, and allot of Viking axe cross sections actually show that they were made to essentially be cheap alternative to a sword, thin and wide in head, not narrow and thick headed, like axes designed to send shock through armor or hit rigid parts. The other common weapons were spears, seaxes, and swords, all not mass weapons. Later on, starting in the end of the Viking age and in the High Middle ages, we see different axe designs, baculums, and flanged maces, more percussive orientated weapons, thus more dedicated padded garments where developed. The coifs could still be a bit on the thin side because many people still liked to grow there hair out and one piece skullcaps where more common, meaning the common warrior had stronger helmet that the most common fighter in the Viking age. .


You forgot the Dane-axe, a devastating 2 handed weapon that i have personally dealt with when sparring, and speaking from that experience i am pretty sure a blow to a poorly protected head from that thing(even when blunt) would probably ruin your day.
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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Apart from the Dane-axes being quite common, you also forget that Viking-age swords had thick blades and were really front-heavy, when chopped at full force they hit like a truck. Saxes could also reach almost a meter in length in some cases.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 3:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Viking Age swords were very light and maneuverable.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Ísleifur Helgason




Location: Iceland
Joined: 18 Feb 2016

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Viking Age swords were very light and maneuverable.


I know, they were not heavy, but they were thick and broad compared to other swords(front heavy), and they cut hard.
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2016 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Blunt daneaxes are often more impact-heavy than sharp ones. Blunt viking swords are almost always significantly more clublike than sharp ones – they're normally made to match the profile and have thick edges, so consequently weigh a ton.

Regardless, an unpadded helmet is not 'almost useless'. It is almost useless against a blunt force strike, true (although it still has deflection and force distribution on its side). Typically modern fighters put a lot more concern into preventing impact injuries than seems to have been historically the case, and I suspect this is down to a combination of many modern blunts being quite unrepresentative clubs, along with a different set of priorities.

However, historical weapons are sharp. When someone slashes at your head with a sharp sword, a helmet without padding will stop them cleaving your head open, and so has been incredibly useful. This is a case where the different contexts of modern and historical fighting lead to very different requirements for useful equipment.

Most later helmet liners which do survive are much thinner than modern reproductions, and I suspect a similar thing applied to viking helmets (note also that we know they used little or no specific padding for mail). My inclination for a viking helmet would be a simple leather spider to hold the helmet in place at the right level, and a woolen cap if a little shock absorption is desired.

Obviously you might need to up-pad from that if you're doing modern combat games, depending on the requirements of your group and your personal safety principles, but it's important to understand that this is a modern adaptation.

Instructor and scholar, Cambridge HEMA
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Baard H




Location: Norway
Joined: 13 Mar 2013

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon 02 May, 2016 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Isleifur, you have two misconceptions here. One is that helmets doesn't work without padding, the other that swords are heavy or front heavy. Both are wrong.
My advice is to take the tips you've been given here and go with them.

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mćki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 495

PostPosted: Mon 02 May, 2016 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Front heavy in terms of later doubled edged swords, but they were still swords. Swords in general are rarely front heavy enough to make good impact weapons. Type Xs are blade heavy when compare to later singled handed doubled edged sword types but they aren't maces are axes and they aren't near as club like as rebated steel versions people use for safety.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,307

PostPosted: Mon 02 May, 2016 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Blunt daneaxes are often more impact-heavy than sharp ones. Blunt viking swords are almost always significantly more clublike than sharp ones – they're normally made to match the profile and have thick edges, so consequently weigh a ton.

Regardless, an unpadded helmet is not 'almost useless'. It is almost useless against a blunt force strike, true (although it still has deflection and force distribution on its side). Typically modern fighters put a lot more concern into preventing impact injuries than seems to have been historically the case, and I suspect this is down to a combination of many modern blunts being quite unrepresentative clubs, along with a different set of priorities.

However, historical weapons are sharp. When someone slashes at your head with a sharp sword, a helmet without padding will stop them cleaving your head open, and so has been incredibly useful. This is a case where the different contexts of modern and historical fighting lead to very different requirements for useful equipment.

Most later helmet liners which do survive are much thinner than modern reproductions, and I suspect a similar thing applied to viking helmets (note also that we know they used little or no specific padding for mail). My inclination for a viking helmet would be a simple leather spider to hold the helmet in place at the right level, and a woolen cap if a little shock absorption is desired.

Obviously you might need to up-pad from that if you're doing modern combat games, depending on the requirements of your group and your personal safety principles, but it's important to understand that this is a modern adaptation.


THANK you! I was just saying pretty much the same thing over on the Armour Archive. I often suspect that a LOT of battle was wimpy prods and slaps with very little energy--prods and slaps with very sharp weapons that would lay unprotected flesh wide open. Unpadded mail or a thin helmet will stop all of that, easily.

The full-force Babe Ruth swing we see in the movie was probably pretty rare, since it leaves the attacker open, telegraphs his moves, uses a LOT more energy, etc. And it wasn't necessary since most fighters were unarmored!

Yay, myth-busting!

Matthew
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2016 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

just my 2 cents but my helm is very thinly padded, single layer of thin sheepskin and thats it.... (its a single piece skullcap like helmet) and i have no issues with that....
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