The most expensive helmets. Part nine. Germaundby: the most famous helmet of the Vikings
Helmet from Germundby. (Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo)
In one of the previous materials of this series it was already told about "helmets with horns" and, in particular, it was noted that the Vikings had no horns on their helmets! But what was, how exactly they looked to judge this until a certain time, scientists could only on the basis of indirect facts, finds that could be attributed precisely to the Viking era in their hands they did not have.
Helmet from Germundby. As you can see, the entire left half of the helmet is almost completely absent. (Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo)
That changed 30 March 1943, when Oldsaksamling University in Oslo received information that a farmer named Lars Germundby found and excavated a huge mound on his land near his Gyurmundby farm, in Buskerud County, in southern Norway. Experienced archaeologists went there and actually found a large mound of 25 meters in length, 1,8 meters in height, and 8 meters in width in its widest place. Most of the embankment was formed by stony soil; however, the inner part of the middle part was lined with large stones. Some stones were even found on the surface of the mound. In the middle part, about one meter below the surface and under the stone layer, the first grave was discovered, known as Germundby I. In 8 meters from Germundby I, a second grave was found in the western part of the embankment, Germundby II. Both graves were the burials of the second half of the 10th century and then described in detail by Sigurd Grieg in the monograph 1947 of the year.
The museum building where this helmet is exhibited.
Several dozens of artifacts were found in the tomb of Gjarmundby I, among which the most interesting were unique items such as chain mail and a helmet that later became very famous and are mentioned or depicted in almost every relevant publication on the Vikings.
Old helmet reconstruction by Erling Ferstad, 1947 (monograph by Sigurd Grieg “Gjermundbufunnet”)
Found helmet is often called the only full Viking helmet, a famous scientist. But this is precisely the inaccuracy that somewhat spoils the whole impression of this unique find. First, the helmet is not complete. When he was found, it consisted of approximately 10 metal fragments in a rather pitiful state, that is, about one third of the entire helmet. Secondly, there are at least five other published fragments of helmets found in Scandinavia and areas with strong Scandinavian influence. There is a fragment of a helmet, found in Thiel, in Denmark, which are very close to the helmet from Germundby. In addition, in the process of its restoration, the shape of the original helmet was not fully reconstructed. That is, according to Norwegian archaeologists, the museum staff involved in its restoration, collected it is not entirely correct. And since the discovery of a millennial prescription is a very fragile object, then they did not redo the already collected later. That is, the helmet presented today to the general public is not entirely correct. But what does “not quite” mean? “Not really” is how much? But this is something no one knows. That is, it is true in general terms, but there may be some inaccuracies in the details. In any case, we can definitely say that the helmet from Germundby is the only helmet of the Viking era that we can look at today and whose design is completely known to us.
The helmet mask due to the thickness of the metal from which it was made is best preserved. (Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo)
It is also believed that this helmet originated from Wendel helmets and is the dominant type of Scandinavian helmets up to 1000 AD, when conical helmets with nose plates became popular.
Helmet, chainmail and other finds from the burial in the Germundby mound in the exposition of the Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo.
So, what is this creation of the ancient Scandinavian blacksmiths? This product is oval, the same as a normal human head. The size of the oval is 16,5 by 20 centimeters. The helmet from Gjermundby was forged from iron with a thickness of one and a half millimeters, but on a half mask the thickness of the metal reaches three millimeters, which is not surprising, because tank frontal armor is thicker than in other places. The design options for the helmet today are as follows: the segments that form its dome are riveted under the helmet frame. Option: segments riveted over its frame. In this case, the purpose of the convex stiffening rib on the helmet rim becomes clear - this is an additional reinforcement of the segment fasteners. But which one is the most correct? Unknown!
Very good reconstruction of the “Helm of Grjomundby” from the movie “And trees grow on stones”. In fact, today it is one of the best movies about Vikings.
The half mask, preserved because of its thickness, was best of all, was riveted on the helmet with the help of five rivets, and decorated on the outside with some kind of colored, and perhaps even precious metal. Since this is the only helmet with a half mask from the Viking Age, all other "reconstructions", however plausible they would look, will be just a creative invention of their authors, no more. Interestingly, the half mask only reaches the upper lip of the warrior and leaves his mouth and teeth open. Nika no cheek and neck protection on the helmet. It is known that in the Middle Ages, for this purpose, a chain mail cloth — a barmitsa — was hung from helmets, which was later replaced by lamellar headlaps and a nazatelnik. Moreover, the cheek-pieces were also known on Wendel helmets, but in this case there were no traces of the chain mail marigold on the Viking helmet from Germundby. Found only two little rings at a distance of 3 centimeters from each other on its rim and that's it! No more traces of attachment for the remaining rings on the helmet could be found. Not a single hole or sleeve suitable for fastening a barmitsa! There is, however, the assumption that leather rings were attached to these rings, which, naturally, were not preserved. But this and all that can still be assumed by looking at the helmet from Germundby in the exposition of the Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo.
"Fragment of Tiele." (Historical Museum of Norway in Oslo)
And now about a fragment of a helmet, which was found in Thiel, in Denmark, which is very close to the helmet from Germundby. It is called “a fragment from Tjele”, and it was found not in the ground, not in some ancient grave, but ... in the collection of tools of the 10th century blacksmith in 1850, but its meaning was not understood until 1984. He was found by a farmer who planted seedlings in Tjela-Manor, between Viborg and Randers, and the owner of the estate sent him to the National Museum of Denmark, where he is today. In 1858, blacksmith's tools were collected — two anvils, five hammers, three pairs of tongs, two plate shears, two files, a chisel, two sprues, two foundry buckets, a grinding stone, a set of weights with ten weights, five sickles, a key, three iron nails, an ax, a tip, a bronze wire, fragments from bronze and iron, and also the remains of a casket, but this find was attributed as a pad on a saddle. For about 130 years, this detail, despite being exposed to the public, did not attract attention until finally it was recognized by Elizabeth Manksgaard, assistant guardian in the Danish History Department, as a remnant of a helmet. Describing the "find" in 1984, she noted that "the best finds are often made not in the field, but in museums."
The leader of the Danes from the movie “Trees grow on stones” is also wearing a similar helmet, but the costume designer is obviously a little overdone. But on his brother's head there is something fantastic at all, although it is quite possible - a leather hat with metal discs sewn on it. It is possible construction in the era of a shortage of craftsmen and metal, why not?
Obviously, although this fragment today contains only “eyebrows and a nose from a helmet,” it probably once was part of a face mask, similar to the one we see on the helmet from Germundby, however, the rest of the helmet could look like unknown The fragment contains no traces of chain mail. However, eight fragments of “thin iron strips about 1 cm wide and various lengths” were found, which may have been originally used to join the plates of this helmet. But that is all that scientists can say for today based on these findings!
But ... this helmet did not help its owner! That's how Sigurd cut him with the sword!
P.S. Well, the image of a bearded Viking in a helmet with horns entrenched in the public consciousness after Swedish artist August Malström illustrated the poem “Frythof Saga” by Esaias Tegner in 1820, and later, in 1876, his colleague Karl Doppler used these drawings to create costumes for Richard Wagner’s opera The Ring of the Nibelung.
- The most expensive helmets. Helmet Crosby Garrett. Part one
The most expensive helmets. Part two. Helmet Hallathon
The most expensive helmets. Helmet of Gisborough. Part three
The most expensive helmets. Helmet Meskalamdug, the hero of the blessed country. Part four
The most expensive helmets. Part Five Benti Grange Helmet
The most expensive helmets. Part six. Helmets of Alexander Nevsky
The most expensive helmets. Part Seven. Helmets with horns
The most expensive helmets. Part Eight The Armory of the Moscow Kremlin in all its glory
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