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Grzegorz Kulig
Industry Professional



Location: Poland
Joined: 22 Mar 2007

Posts: 98

PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Paul.
Nice to you see you here! Happy

I must say your arguments are the best I have seen so far for this thesis of using those helmet in fight. However, I can't accept all of them. Wink Please, let me answer you at Sunday, as me and Gracjana are leaving tomorrow and it is already very late in Poland.

And Paul, please, those words about my work weren't necessary, although they were very, very kind and I do appreciate you think this way about my work. Blush

However, if someone disagree with me and if he is doing in gentleman's way (like you did), I don't treat this like lack of honour. Discussions are always good Exclamation We can only gain more knowledge from them, as no one can never be certain he knows everything. I really like discussions, especially if the subject isn't obvious and certain, like this one. I am not specialist of Vendel period, I can only say from practical point of view and from a bit of knowledge I gained, while examine information about those helmets. Anyway, if someone disagree with me this doesn't mean he doesn't respect me and my work! Wink

OK, I should better finish, now. Need some rest after next very busy day. We will be continuing this very interesting discussion at Sunday, OK? Happy

P.S. Paul, Gracjana will send you some photos of new Valsgarde 6 very soon. Dave has already received some photos of production process. :o) It is his helmet, so he had to be the first person who saw them. Wink Hope you don't mind few more days of waiting...

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Bruce Tordoff
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Joined: 13 Aug 2007

Posts: 120

PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Grzegorz, I will be going to Dave Huggins' house this week to have a look at the photos of his new Valsgarde helm, looking forward to seeing it. Anyway about the idea of fighting in a Vendel/Valsgarde or Sutton Hoo type helmet.
Firstly, I tend to agree with Paul M on this one. If you were rich (and lucky) enough to own one of these helmets in that period, then one would use it to fight in. I think the point is this, Rich people probably then and most definately now , tend to have a blase attitude towards the use of expensive possessions. If their Aston Martin or Enzo Ferrari gets a dent in it they take it to 'someone' to be repaired, without breaking a sweat over the bill. Speaking as a person who makes the odd bit of armour or equipment for my chosen period I can empathise with you Grzegorz, As you are a highly skilled craftsman, I believe you look at a helmet like the Vendel 1 , for example, as a father does when his daughter is going out on her first date with a boy. I think it would be saddening to spend weeks of work on a fine helmet only to have some hooligan hacking at it with an axe. But then again I doubt any Vendel chieftan ever made his own Swords and helmets, else he might have thought twice about wearing it in battle. Put it this way I'm most definately not rich, so when I eventually have enough money to buy one of you beautiful helms I certainly won't be fighting in it . I value the work that has gone into an object, not its monetary worth. Any way keep up the good work.
Regards
Bruce
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Ville Vinje




Location: Uppsala
Joined: 20 Apr 2006

Posts: 142

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my opinion there is not much dought that the Vendel/Valsgarde helmets were made for parade or ceremonial practise.

Having seen the actual helmets many times ( I live five minutes from the museum) i find it hard to think that they would work very effective as protection. The helmets themselves are thin and very small. In fact they are so small that they couldn't possibly have contained inside fittings. Anyone having been hit on the helmet by a sword or axe knows that the inside fittings are crucial to both comfort and protection.

My guess is that the helmets were made to look good and impressive on the wearers head rather than filling the function of actual protection.

I have no dought, however, that the Valsgärde/Vendel helmets were made in the image of actual combat helmets, although one could ask how common these were.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ville, as you state the pressblech do show warriors in combat wearing the type of decorated helmet in question, so perhaps the pressblech do demostrate an actuality ,and not an heroic ideal. I read recently that one of the helms shows an area of repair perhaps indicating actual use.

There is a Roman cavalry helmets on display at Norwich Castle Museum , and I was very suprised at how small that was,
It would have been more suited to an individual of the same stature as a modern horse racing jockey Confused

Another aspect of the crested helms is how long they continued in use. Some, including Dominic Tweedle, argue for the use of crested helms into the Viking Age up to the 10th Century. There is a piece of Viking Age stone sculpture in the area I live that has a warrior wearing what could easily be interpretated as a crested helm.

best
Dave

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





Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ville Vinje wrote:
In my opinion there is not much dought that the Vendel/Valsgarde helmets were made for parade or ceremonial practise.

Having seen the actual helmets many times ( I live five minutes from the museum) i find it hard to think that they would work very effective as protection. The helmets themselves are thin and very small. In fact they are so small that they couldn't possibly have contained inside fittings. Anyone having been hit on the helmet by a sword or axe knows that the inside fittings are crucial to both comfort and protection.

My guess is that the helmets were made to look good and impressive on the wearers head rather than filling the function of actual protection.

I have no dought, however, that the Valsgärde/Vendel helmets were made in the image of actual combat helmets, although one could ask how common these were.


Though I have never seen the originals in person, I have very extensively researched the subject (having all of Arwidsson's "Valsgärde" books, Stope's "Grafaltet vid Vendel", Bruce-Mitford's "Sutton Hoo - Vol II, Arms Armour & Regalia" in addition to Tweedle and many other more obscure articles besides) and I see no real evidence that these were anything other than battle helms, if more ornate than most.

What do you mean by "thin"? Even 2mm thickness in the frame is quite sufficient - and the infill panels or lattices can be thinner than this. They needed to stop sword blades, not mounted lances in a joust. As to being too small, keep in mind that, AFAIK, no reconstructable human remains have ever been found with any of these helms. Given that the helms were fitted to their heads, and not yours, what may be too small for you may have suited them just fine.

In any case, maybe you just have a big head Laughing Out Loud Seriously, I have about a size 7, and helms like these that I have personally made are usually on the order of 68 cm in terms of circumference at the brow. Going from memory, the Gjermundbu helm (which is often cited as being "too small") has a circumference of 66 cm (again, I need to dig this up and double check, but I believe this to be correct), which is quite close. I can get sufficient padding in mine, and have no doubt the actual owners of these helms did precisely the same with theirs.

Part of the problem also is that only one of these helms, that from Sutton Hoo, has undergone truly detailed analysis. I imagine many surpises await discovery, if only the time be taken to do such an investigation.

A big part of the problem is that academics will have a blacksmith make a precise and very good replica of a given helm, and they'll put it on and pronounce it un-battleworthy because it's too small, has poor visibility, etc., all the while being blissfully ignorant of the fact that the helm was not made to fit them! Had it been sized properly, eyeholes placed propery, etc. they might have had a different impression.

In any case, where are the grand parade grounds that these guys always seemed to be marching in? And to impress which general staff? I find that descriptions like "parade" and "ceremonial" helm tend to be very handwavy terms that are at best very poorly defined, and thus not terribly useful (even if they contain some small kernal of truth).
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Ville Vinje




Location: Uppsala
Joined: 20 Apr 2006

Posts: 142

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you say the helmets are 2mm I have to belive you. As with all finds of this sort all we can do is speculate. Maby the owners had very small heads, maby the helmets were actually used in combat.

What most people seem to agree to is that the contents of graves were more symbolic than practical, that is to say that the items were supposed to reflect who the deceased was in life and who he wanted to be in the afterlife. The symbolic use of weapons, armour and other items during the vendel period are well documented.



C.Gadda wrote:

In any case, where are the grand parade grounds that these guys always seemed to be marching in? And to impress which general staff? I find that descriptions like "parade" and "ceremonial" helm tend to be very handwavy terms that are at best very poorly defined, and thus not terribly useful (even if they contain some small kernal of truth).

Both Vendel and Valsgärde are religious and politicaly significant sites. They are situated at fifteen minutes walking distanse to the old Uppsala king mounds and the site of the Uppsala heathen temple. Right next to the site is the "Uppsala Öd", the traditional agricultural site of the mid swedish kings. All sites are futher more located next to the fyris river (mentioned in several sagas) that was a major trade route. I think its fair to say that the site was a place well suited for ceremonial and political practises.
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Martin Wallgren




Location: Bjästa, Sweden
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An interesting thing I found out after making a helmet in the style of the Vendel helmets though without the brass fittings was that it works in a suprising way when stressed by a hit. It flexes a little bit and kind of receive the blow in a way a spun helmet or a spangen helmet doesn´t. A little bit as a bicycle-helmet or hockey helmet does. With thin padded cap in it it works muck better that anticipated I can show you my ugly but working helmet in a videoclip next week. When I´m back from my short trip to my parents. I can call you BTW Ville if you wanna take a fika some day this weekend;)
Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Dustin R. Reagan





Joined: 09 May 2006

Posts: 264

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Mortimer wrote:

4. Conspicuous displays of wealth were important to the warrior -- the richer he appeared to be - the more successful he must be - the tougher and more intimidating he would seem to be to his opponents.


Also, it may be that conspicuous displays of wealth had the added benefit that they indicated the prestige, importance, and wealth of the warrior. This in turn implied that it may be a better idea to *capture* instead of kill the warrior...a nice ransom could be had, or maybe even more importantly, an important prisoner to use as leverage in the political sphere.

Dustin
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Paul Mortimer




Location: England, Essex
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PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a high quality replica of the Sutton Hoo hat -- there are pictures of it within the archives of myArmoury -- it is an exceedingly practical helmet, providing good vision and real protection for all of my head. It was made according to measurements provided by Bruce-Mitford in his three (4) volume work. By the way, he actually gives two different sets of measurements within the book - so much for accuracy. Itis the Sutton Hoo that seems to have suffered some battle damage.

Some of the Swedish helms have mail curtains -- why go to these lengths for a parade helm?

I agree that the symbolism on the helmets had ritual and religious significance -- that only adds to their value as war helmets.
As for being buried near an important religiou centre - what better place for a cemetery? I don't really understand your point there, Ville.

Cheers,

Paul
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C. Gadda





Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 135

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ville Vinje wrote:
If you say the helmets are 2mm I have to belive you. As with all finds of this sort all we can do is speculate. Maby the owners had very small heads, maby the helmets were actually used in combat.

What most people seem to agree to is that the contents of graves were more symbolic than practical, that is to say that the items were supposed to reflect who the deceased was in life and who he wanted to be in the afterlife. The symbolic use of weapons, armour and other items during the vendel period are well documented.

C.Gadda wrote:

In any case, where are the grand parade grounds that these guys always seemed to be marching in? And to impress which general staff? I find that descriptions like "parade" and "ceremonial" helm tend to be very handwavy terms that are at best very poorly defined, and thus not terribly useful (even if they contain some small kernal of truth).

Both Vendel and Valsgärde are religious and politicaly significant sites. They are situated at fifteen minutes walking distanse to the old Uppsala king mounds and the site of the Uppsala heathen temple. Right next to the site is the "Uppsala Öd", the traditional agricultural site of the mid swedish kings. All sites are futher more located next to the fyris river (mentioned in several sagas) that was a major trade route. I think its fair to say that the site was a place well suited for ceremonial and political practises.


Actually, w.r.t. the helm's thickness I'm asking you - you claimed they were too thin. But that is a very subjective statement - your definition of "too thin" and mine (as an experienced armourer) may differ considerably. I am only saying that if they are at least that thickness or thereabouts, then they should be just fine in terms of protective quality.

While I agree on the symbolism of the graves, I have seen no evidence that any of the artifacts were anything other than items fully useable in real life. In other words, they did not put a miniature symbolic sword alongside the warrior, but a very real and quite functional sword (presumably that which he bore in life). Also, many ordinary tools and objects have been found as well. Therefore, I see no reason based upon this, at least, to assume that the helms were non-functional in combat.

And as to the parade grounds, I was only teasing Happy But the reason I said that is really because I see the term "ceremonial" arbitrarily applied to artifacts more because the academic in question could not figure out what it was used for, rather than any proof that was indeed used in a particular ritual. By way of relevant example consider the pressblech foils that depict "horned" helms. Now, no such helms have ever been found. But if we did find an example, we could reasonably conclude that it was used in some sort of ritual dance, because that is the very thing we see depicted on the pressblech foil. I do not recall ever seeing an artistic depiction of such a "helm" (if that is what it is, as opposed to a headdress) being used in anything that could reasonably be interpreted in a battle scene. Conversely, I do not recall ever seeing an artistic depiction of a Vendel style helm being used in anything that one could reasonably interpret as a genuine ritual - most (if not all) seem to show warriors either in battle, or marching into battle. While I do not dismiss the possibility of a "ceremonial" role, I see no direct evidence for it, either. But I do see direct evidence (artistic, at least) for a role in battle.

Again, I am going from memory here and would appreciate any corrections if I have erred, and extend apologies in advance if that is what I have indeed done.
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Ville Vinje




Location: Uppsala
Joined: 20 Apr 2006

Posts: 142

PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Mortimer wrote:

I agree that the symbolism on the helmets had ritual and religious significance -- that only adds to their value as war helmets.
As for being buried near an important religiou centre - what better place for a cemetery? I don't really understand your point there, Ville.


This is my point Paul. A religious and political center is a good place for a cementary as in a a place for a ceremonial burial or parade.

C. Gadda,
Your ideas about the pressblech, as intresting as they may be, does not point us in any direction here. The pressblech of the Vendel/valsgärde/Tuna and Sutton hoo depicts all kinds of situations, some of them clearly of a symbolical and mythological nature. One of the the pressblech depicts a riding man spearing a snake surrounded by two ravens. Other pressblech from Torslunda depicts several men wearing helmets of the Valsgärde/Vendel Sutton Hoo type. One shows two men with spears another shows a man with an axe and a chained beast, a third depicts an armoured man surrounded by two mythological beasts. The forth depicts a man with a migration era sword, a spear and a horned helmet chased by a wolfheaded man.

The common attitude to the helmets (at least here in sweden) are that their inpractical nature impies that they were not used in combat. But this is just theories. It is (at least for the moment) impossible for us to know if the helmets were or were not used in combat. One thing that speaks for the theory that they were used in combat is that some of the items (such as tools) showed marks of use.
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Ville Vinje




Location: Uppsala
Joined: 20 Apr 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Wallgren wrote:
An interesting thing I found out after making a helmet in the style of the Vendel helmets though without the brass fittings was that it works in a suprising way when stressed by a hit. It flexes a little bit and kind of receive the blow in a way a spun helmet or a spangen helmet doesn´t. A little bit as a bicycle-helmet or hockey helmet does. With thin padded cap in it it works muck better that anticipated I can show you my ugly but working helmet in a videoclip next week. When I´m back from my short trip to my parents. I can call you BTW Ville if you wanna take a fika some day this weekend;)


I'm sorry to say I will be in Finland next weekend. I will not return until sunday evening....sucks.
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Grzegorz Kulig
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Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see this very interesting discussion is developing . The more I regret I still can't write my answer... I have just finished my first Valsgarde 6 for David and I am so tired that I really doubt my ability of thinking logically... Sad Hope you understand... This is the reason I write so rarely here...
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Chris Gilman




Location: California
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PostPosted: Tue 13 May, 2008 10:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My helmets from the first page have been worn in a couple of battles, albeit reenactment battles, but they did provide fine visibility and wear ability and mine was struck with a steel sword at least once and I was unaware I had been struck until I found the resulting damage after the battle. The helm therefore provided good shock protection to a degree. Given their construction, I see no reason they would not protect the wearer from any serious blow, like any helm of the period would.
So I think I would have to agree that these where made to use, not just for show. However I would think that anyone who could afford such a helm, could also afford to have other people fight for them and afford them the advantage to be at the back or on the edges of any battle they wished to be.

Chris
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Gilman wrote:

So I think I would have to agree that these where made to use, not just for show. However I would think that anyone who could afford such a helm, could also afford to have other people fight for them and afford them the advantage to be at the back or on the edges of any battle they wished to be.


Or rich enough to have the helm repaired or replaced. Wink

Also, the prestige value of a highly decorated and costly helm was probably worth the risk of damage to it as long as the construction was sound under all the " bling " i.e. the helm could still do it's primary job of keeping one alive.

Depending on culture fighting from the rear would not be an " honourable option " that a war chief could opt for unless being too young, too old or crippled to fight. Having an established reputation might permit to delegate rather than fight in person in some cases while a young unproven leader would have much to prove to others and himself as far as being courageous, skilled, wise in battle etc ......

Even Julius Caesar fought in the front ranks at times, both from necessity and for morale reasons: I'm sure that at times it was much more valuable for him to observe the battle and direct it from a little bit behind the front line.

Same thing for Alexander the Great who led from the front in major battles.

All this could vary wildly from culture to culture at different times and the political system.

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Hugh Fuller




Location: Virginia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In most of the battles of the time, once the fighting had begun, troops could only react to their training. Orders given from afar got lost in the din of combat and it was, therefore, not really appropriate for commanders to be at the rear issuing orders as they do now.
Hugh
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C. Gadda





Joined: 20 Aug 2007

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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ville Vinje wrote:

The common attitude to the helmets (at least here in sweden) are that their inpractical nature impies that they were not used in combat. But this is just theories. It is (at least for the moment) impossible for us to know if the helmets were or were not used in combat. One thing that speaks for the theory that they were used in combat is that some of the items (such as tools) showed marks of use.


While it is impossible to know at present, a much clearer picture would emerge if academics would provide better information. Only the Coppergate and Sutton Hoo helms have been properly studied, and even there some key pieces of information are not provided. It is a foregone conclusion that the Valsgärde and especially Vendel helms are in dire need of a much more in depth analysis.

You are right, however, about the small size of these helms. Your post got me curious and I pulled out my tomes from my recently liberated library and did a little fact checking. Now, on average, the circumference of the human head ranges from 56-61 cm (mine is right at the low end of about 56 cm). Where provided, I looked up the data on a few helms, and this is what I came up with: Sutton Hoo (74 cm+), Coppergate, Valsgärde 6 & 7 (all three ~64cm), and Valsgärde 8 (61 cm). I believe Gjermundbu is 66 cm, but I do not have that source right in front of me (I couldn’t find it in Gjermundbufundet, and I suspect I got it out of Knut Wester’s article in Neurosurgery). I have more comparative data, but will need some time to collate it.

Note that the above sizes do not leave much room for padding, as Ville observed – some, but not a lot; perhaps 5-6mm. Is it enough? I don’t really know - Brian Price in his book on reconstructing medieval armor recommends “5/8 inches (~16mm) all the way around” for padding – but this may be based more upon the modern obsession with safety than a matter of true necessity. He cites no rationale for this arbitrary number; likely it is based on his personal experience with Society for Creative Anachronism requirements, which are very excessive compared to what was likely done on historical battlefields.

A significant point, however, is that the Coppergate helm shows conclusive evidence of battle damage (see Tweddle, The Helm from Coppergate). If this helm, which is pretty much the same size as most of the Valsgärde helms, was considered battle worthy, then one can reasonably conclude that the helms were big enough to allow for an amount of padding deemed sufficient by their wearers. This subject, however, will require a much, much more detailed analysis on my part. I shall need to look at the details on Spangenhelme and various late Roman helms (and maybe even earlier material) before I can say anything more on this.

I do feel that a crucial point to establish is the metal thickness of the browband, along with the nose to nape and (if present) lateral bands; for the Sutton Hoo helm the thickness near the front rim of the bowl would be helpful. This is vital. If we know this, we can make a reasoned assessment as to the battle-worthiness of the helm. And I specify the frame, in particular, because I believe that is the true “load bearing” structure of these helms; the various infill panels and matrices only provide ancillary support (at least, that is my present view on this subject). On the Coppergate helm, the limited measurements that were taken indicate a thickness ranging from 1.7 to 3.0mm (!!). That is heavy duty, and comparable to the Dargen Great Helm, which (if I recall correctly) is 2mm at it’s thickest. This is also similar to some bascinets cited in Hardy’s book on Longbows (which I do not have to hand, but can post later if there is interest).

Thus, if one can show that the various Vendel type helms had browbands and so forth of at least ~2mm or so thickness or better, then I would submit that these are almost certainly designed for real fighting. If on the other hand they turn out to be ~1mm or less in this critical area, then I would conclude that they probably were intended more for show. Part of the reason that I say this is from an ease of construction and weight viewpoint – a ~2mm (let alone 3mm) metal band is significantly harder to work than a ~1mm band (which can be bent pretty easily be hand), and the weight would be noticeably greater. It would not make sense to go through the significant extra work and weight just for something to look sexy in, when a much lighter construction could do exactly the same thing for much less effort. A heavier construction would only make sense if one was expecting to get struck.

Alas, academics in large measure seem wholly incapable of grasping the importance of a piece of armor’s thickness. Even the excellent material in Tweddle had serious shortcomings; for example, no effort was made to provide the thickness of the infill panels (one of which was detached when found, and could have been measured quite easily) or the overall weight of the reconstructed helm, which are vital bits of data. For all the ink spilled on the Sutton Hoo helm, I have yet to see a single thickness measurement for the helm bowl (though an estimated weight of ~2.5 kilos is provided). While exhaustive information exists in the armor research community with regards to metallurgy, surface hardness, and so forth (c.f. Williams “Knight and the Blast Furnace”) none of these otherwise very bright individuals seem capable of understanding the enormous importance of plate thickness. They invest all sorts of time and money into expensive hardness testing and metallurgical analyses, and yet make no effort to obtain a deep throat micrometer (which can be had through MSC Tools for a mere $100 or so) and take a few measurements... (well, preferably quite a few – as many as needed to establish graduations in thickness. I suspect that the front and top will be heaviest, and back thinnest, but since no one has done this sort of in depth analysis, it cannot be stated as a certainty). Very unfortunate, as this gaping omission cripples our understanding of ancient armour.

Anyway, that is where we are at. In sum, I would say that the evidence, at present, does lean to the notion that these were intended for fighting. But, as noted, until we get a better sense of the construction details we cannot state that as a certainty. A pity, since the information is in large measure obtainable, but simply hasn’t been collected owing to ignorance in the academic community with regards to armour design and construction.
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Antonio Lamadrid





Joined: 17 Apr 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First of all, I will make my presentation, for this is my first post. My name is Antonio Lamadrid and I am from Bilbao.

I have a great interest in this thread, as I am also a Dark Age re-enactor. I recreate a Bask warrior circa 600 A.D. Although the period is the same, the culture is very different, and so is therefore the equipment, much more Frankish-looking (for example, I wear a Vezeronce helm).


Now to the subject.

Here is an excerpt from the, in my opinion, excellent book "Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450-900", by Guy Halsall, Routledge.

It concerns the use of armour, in pages 175-6:

"The Ostrogothic King Totila's change from very highly decorated parade armour, which certainly left an impression on his enemies, to simpler battlefield equipment before the battle of Busta Gallorum (552) is an interesting possible exception, but on the whole early medieval military equipment cannot be divided into "practical" and "parade" items. The battlefield effectiveness of weaponry is as much about its moral effect on the enemy as about its physical efficiency […]. For all those reasons, highly ornate swords-hilts, decorated helmets (especially with face-masks, eye-rings, nasal bars and mail aventails) […] were all intensenly, grimly, practical items. The Sutton Hoo helmet may have been uncomfortable to wear, but it would be very fearsome to behold, especially when its wearer was surrounded by other well-armoured and equipped warriors. Victims of modern crime attest that when an assailant disguises or conceals his or her face, even with a simple stocking mask, it makes him or her particularly frightening. This fact was surely not lost on the early medieval warrior. The extra protection afforded by the Gjermundbu helmet's eye-rings is minimal, but they create an imposing effect. Items like these proclaimed the approach of a renowned, experienced and fearsome warrior, or at least aimed at giving the enemy the impression that the approaching soldier was experienced and formidable".


As for my personal opinion, I agree with Paul Mortimer: what is the point of adding chainmail to a parade-only helmet?
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Shamsi Modarai




Location: On wuda bearwe, under actreo in þam eorðscræfe.
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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also want to express my continued interest in this thread. I have nothing to add really as my area of research at the moment is on oaths in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse literature (though I am interested in material culture too). But as for these beautiful helms, I know only the little I've learned from my friends, books, professors, and what I've read on this board, etc. I wish I had more time for some hands-on approaches! So please, continue, its wonderful to read all the differing opinions. Happy


Oh, and just to because I can, I will add that Guy Halsall (author of work mentioned above) teaches at my uni! ;p

Wa bið þam þe sceal of langoþe leofes abidan.

~ The Wife's Lament
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Mikael Ranelius




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PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a simple question: if the helms from Vendel and Valsgärde were never intended to be worn in battle, but for show and processions only – why did they take the trouble to forge them out of iron? Why not cast them from bronze or some other metal?

And then, to put it in context, other burial-gifts from the boat graves included fully functional weapons. Why then would the helms be some kind of ceremonial replicas, whereas the weapons were real?
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