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Horned helmet

Horned helmet

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Encyclopedia
European Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 helmets with horns are known from a few depictions, and even fewer actual finds. Such helmet
Helmet
A helmet is a form of protective gear worn on the head to protect it from injuries.Ceremonial or symbolic helmets without protective function are sometimes used. The oldest known use of helmets was by Assyrian soldiers in 900BC, who wore thick leather or bronze helmets to protect the head from...

s mounted with animal horns
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 or replicas of them were probably used for religious ceremonial
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 or ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 purposes.

Prehistoric Europe


Two bronze statuettes dated to the early 12th century BCE, the so-called "horned god" and "ingot god", depicting deities wearing horned helmets, found in Enkomi
Enkomi
This article is about the town and ancient settlement near Famagusta. For the suburb of Nicosia , see: Engomi.Enkomi is a village near Famagusta on Cyprus. It is the site of an important Bronze Age city, possibly the capital of Alasiya...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

.

A pair of bronze horned helmets from the later Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 (dating to ca. 1100–900 BCE) were found near Veksø
Veksø
Veksø is a small town located between Ballerup and Stenløse in Egedal municipality near Copenhagen on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark with a population of 1,900 .The town is on a hill, surrounded by meadows and swamps....

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in 1942. Another early find is the Grevensvænge hoard from Zealand, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (ca. 800–500 BCE, now lost).

A pre-Roman Celtic bronze ceremonial helmet with repoussé decoration in the La Tène style, dating to ca. 150–50 BCE, was found in the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, at London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Its abstracted 'horns', different from those of the earlier finds, are straight and conical. Late Gaulish helmets (ca. 55 BCE) with small horns and adorned with wheels, reminiscent of the combination of a horned helmet and a wheel on plate C of the Gundestrup cauldron
Gundestrup cauldron
The Gundestrup cauldron is a richly-decorated silver vessel, thought to date to the 1st century BC, placing it into the late La Tène period. It was found in 1891 in a peat bog near the hamlet of Gundestrup, in the Aars parish in Himmerland, Denmark...

 (ca. 100 BCE), were found in Orange, France.

Migration Period



Depicted on the Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312...

, dedicated in 315 CE, are Germanic soldiers, sometimes identified as "Cornuti
Cornuti
The Cornuti was an auxilia palatina unit of the Late Roman army, active in the 4th and 5th century. It was probably related to the Cornuti seniores and the Cornuti iuniores.- History :...

", shown wearing horned helmets. On the relief representing the Battle of Verona (312)
Battle of Verona (312)
The Battle of Verona was fought in 312 between the forces of the Roman emperors Constantine I and Maxentius. Maxentius' forces were defeated, and Ruricius Pompeianus, the most senior Maxentian commander, was killed in the fighting.-Background:...

 they are in the first lines, and they are depicted fighting with the bowmen in the relief of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

A depiction on a Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 (5th century) metal die from Öland
Öland
' is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. The island has 25,000 inhabitants, but during Swedish Midsummer it is visited by up to 500,000 people...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, shows a warrior with a helmet adorned with two snakes or dragons, arranged in a manner similar to horns. Decorative plates of the Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo, near to Woodbridge, in the English county of Suffolk, is the site of two 6th and early 7th century cemeteries. One contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, now held in the British...

 helmet (ca. 600 CE) depict spear-carrying dancing men wearing horned helmets. A diebolt for striking plaques of this kind was found at Torslunda, Sweden. An engraved belt-buckle found in a 7th century grave at Finglesham, Kent
Finglesham
Finglesham is a village near Dover in Kent, England, which was the site of a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon archaeology find known as "Finglesham man," as described in 1965 by Sonia Chadwick Hawkes and Hilda Ellis Davidson....

 in 1965 bears the image of a naked warrior standing between two spears wearing a belt and a horned helmet; a case has been made that the much-repaired chalk figure called the "Long Man of Wilmington
Long Man of Wilmington
The Long Man of Wilmington is a hill figure located in Wilmington, East Sussex, England on the steep slopes of Windover Hill, northwest of Eastbourne. The Long Man is tall and designed to look in proportion when viewed from below....

", East Sussex, repeats this iconic motif, and originally wore a similar cap, of which only the drooping lines of the neckguard remain. This headgear, of which only depictions have survived, seems to have mostly fallen out of use with the end of the Migration period.
the also like beer

There is, nevertheless, some evidence for a continuation of the tradition of horned helmets in cultic use into the Viking Age: an illustration on a tapestry found in the Viking Age Oseberg ship burial
Oseberg ship
The Oseberg ship is a well-preserved Viking ship discovered in a large burial mound at the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg in Vestfold county, Norway.-Burial mound:...

, and a depiction on an amulet found in Uppland
Uppland
Uppland is a historical province or landskap on the eastern coast of Sweden, just north of Stockholm, the capital. It borders Södermanland, Västmanland and Gästrikland. It is also bounded by lake Mälaren and the Baltic sea...

, Sweden.

Middle Ages


During the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

, fantastical headgear became popular among knights, in particular for tournaments The achievements or representations of some coats of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

, for example that of Lazar Hrebeljanovic, depict them, but they rarely appear as charges depicted within the arms themselves. It is sometimes argued that Iron Age helmets would not have been worn in battle due to the impediment to their wearer. However, impractical adornments have been worn on battlefields throughout history.
Helmets with large horns were particularly popular among knights of the Teutonic Order during their campaigns in Eastern Europe for purposes of intimidation.

Popular association with Vikings


Ceremonial use of horned helmets during the Germanic Iron Age
Germanic Iron Age
The Germanic Iron Age is the name given to the period 400–800 in Northern Europe and it is part of the continental Age of Migrations.-Germanic Iron :...

 persisted until the 7th century and can thus be argued to may have overlapped with the early Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

. However, there is no evidence that horned helmets were ever worn in battle at any point during the Viking Age.

Nevertheless, popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 came to associate horned helmets strongly with Viking warriors
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

.
The popular association probably arose in 19th century Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, possibly by misattribution of Bronze Age images such as the Grevensvænge figurines
Grevensvænge figurines
The Grevensvænge hoard is a find of the late Nordic Bronze Age , discovered in the late 18th century at Grevensvænge, Naestved Municipality, Zealand, Denmark....

.
A 20th-century example of this association is the Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings joined the National Football League as an expansion team in 1960...

 football team, which as its logo carries a horn on each side of the helmet.

See also

  • Horned God
    Horned God
    The Horned God is one of the two primary deities found in some European pagan religions. He is often given various names and epithets, and represents the male part of the religion's duotheistic theological system, the other part being the female Triple Goddess. In common Wiccan belief, he is...

  • Golden hat
    Golden hat
    Golden hats are a very specific and rare type of archaeological artefact from Bronze Age Central Europe. So far, four such objects are known...

  • Pointy hat
    Pointy hat
    Pointed hats have been a distinctive item of headgear of a wide range of cultures throughout history. Though often suggesting an ancient Indo-European tradition, they were also traditionally worn by women of Lapland, the Japanese, the Mi'kmaq people of Atlantic Canada, and the Huastecs of Veracruz...

  • Pickelhaube
    Pickelhaube
    The Pickelhaube , also "Pickelhelm," was a spiked helmet worn in the 19th and 20th centuries by German military, firefighters, and police...

    , German spiked helmet of 20th century
  • Kabuto
    Kabuto
    A kabuto is a helmet used with traditional Japanese armour as worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan....

    , Japanese helmet with horned specimens

External links