Meče Petersenova typu M

Jelikož řada vikinských mečů se vyznačuje dekorací, která kvalitní rekonstrukce značně prodražuje, byl jsem svými kolegy osloven, zda bych nemohl zveřejnit některé nezdobené kusy, které by bylo možné snadněji rekonstruovat. Moje volba padla na Petersenův typ M. Vzhledem k jednoduchosti má tento typ mezi skandinávskými meči četné zastoupení, a protože jde dnes o často přehlížený typ, rozhodně si zaslouží naši pozornost.

Popis

Typ M (též jako R. 489) označuje variantu meče, která tvoří stupeň mezi typem F a typem Q. Tento typ se vyznačuje jednoduchým jílcem, který připomíná tvar písmene I. Ostře řezaná záštita a hlavice jsou zpravidla rovné a stejně vysoké, ve výjimečných případech je záštita mírně zakřivená. Hlavice je tvořena prostou, záštitě podobnou příčkou (tzv. „horní záštita“), na které je roznýtován řap a která nikdy není rozšířena o korunu. Z čelní pohledové strany jsou záštita i hlavice obdélníkového tvaru. Boční strany jsou obvykle ploché, méně často zaoblené. Důležitým rysem typu M je nedekorovaný jílec. Čepele jsou obvykle dvoubřité (jednobřité varianty tvoří podle Petersena zhruba 15%) a prosté, ačkoli známe i několik málo norských a švédských čepelí, které byly vyrobeny metodou svářkového damašku (Androščuk 2014: 386–7; Petersen 1919: 118). Petersen poznamenává, že žádná norská čepel nenese nápis, což je podle našich informací stále aktuální. Na čepeli z finské Eury můžeme nalézt variantu nápisu ULFBERHT (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Ač se jedná o meče s jednoduchým designem, jsou vyrobeny z kvalitních materiálů.

typM-framdalir
Meč z islandské lokality Framdalir. Androščuk 2014: 68, Fig. 23.

Meče typu M jsou obecně dlouhé do jednoho metru, obvykle kolem 80–90 cm. Nejdelší meč, který jsme byli schopni dohledat, měří 95 cm. Průměrná šířka skandinávských čepelí je kolem 5,5–6 cm, někdy dosahuje až k 6,5 cm. Celková váha u zjištěných, průměrně dlouhých kusů činí 1100–1200 gramů. Nejkratší kus, který se nám podařilo zjistit, váží 409 gramů a je dlouhý 47,7 cm, přičemž čepel je 38,5 cm dlouhá a 0,48 cm tlustá (Peirce 2002: 86). Tento meč, který měl být údajně nalezen v chlapeckém hrobu, se zdá být zmenšenou, avšak jinak plnohodnotnou verzí. Abychom nastínili anatomii tohoto zajímavé typu, vybrali jsme šest relativně dobře zachovalých exemplářů, které detailněji popíšeme.

C59045_Dovre
Dovre, Norsko (C59045). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 89 cm. Délka čepele 77 cm. Šířka čepele 5,9 cm. Žlábek patrný od 12 cm od záštity po 6 cm od hrotu. Délka jílce 12 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,3 cm. Šířka rukojeti 3,4 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 9,4 cm × 1,1 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 7 cm × 1,3 × 2,2–2,3 cm. Váha 1141,1 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C58919_FlesbergÅsland, Norsko (C58919). Zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 87 cm. Délka rukojeti 8,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 11,6 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,6 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,7 cm. Foto: Elin Christine Storbekk, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C24244_ArgehovdMogen, Norsko (C24244). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený před rokem 1937. Celková délka 85 cm. Šířka čepele: 5,5 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,6 cm. Délka záštity 12,9 cm. Délka hlavice 8,3 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C53462_TelemarkTelemark, Norsko (C53462). Částečně zkorodovaný meč, darovaný muzeu roku 2004. Celková délka 71 cm. Délka poškozené čepele 59,5 cm. Šířka čepele 5,8 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,7 cm. Délka a výška záštity 10,5 cm × 1 cm. Délka a výška hlavice 6,8 cm × 0,8 cm. Foto: Ellen C. Holte, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

parisNeznámá francouzská lokalita, zřejmě říční nález (Musée de l’Armée, Paris; J3). Skvěle zachovalý meč, nalezený před rokem 1890. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 75 cm. Šířka čepele 5,3 cm. Délka záštity: 10 cm. Délka rukojeti 12 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Musée de l’Armée negativ K23710.

T19391-rorosRøros, Norsko (T19391). Dobře zachovalý meč, nalezený roku 1973. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 78 cm. Šířka čepele 5,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 12,2 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,1 cm. Foto: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

Pozornost můžeme věnovat také organickým pozůstatkům nalezeným na mečích typu M. Obecně vzato lze říci, že řada mečů vykazuje jasné stopy dřevěného obložení rukojeti a dřevěné pochvy. Uveďme si několik konkrétních příkladů. Meč z hrobu č. 511 v anglickém Reptonu byl uložen v dřevěné pochvě, která byla vystlána ovčím rounem a potažena kůží (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49). Pochva byla opatřena závěsným systémem, ze kterého se zachovala pouze odlévaná přezka. Rukojeť byla vyrobena z měkkého dřeva, které bylo ovinuto pruhem textilu. Meč z islandského Öndverðarnesu (Kt 47) měl dřevěnou rukojeť omotanou tenkým, splétaným provázkem, a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou textilií (Eldjárn 2000: 326). U hrotu byly nalezeny pozůstatky koženého potahu pochvy, zatímco 3 cm pod záštitou se nacházely pozůstatky po průvleku mečového pásu. V dalším islandském hrobu, tentokrát z lokality Sílastaðir (Kt 98), byl uložen meč s jílcem obloženým dřevěnými střenkami, které byly zasunuté pod záštitu a které byly u hlavice omotané provázkem (Eldjárn 2000: 326). Pochva tohoto meče je dřevěná, zevnitř vystlaná textilem, navrchu lnem a kůží. Na několika místech jsou stále patrné profilované omoty okolo pochvy. 12 cm pod záštitou se nacházel kovový pásek, který nejspíše sloužil k uchycení mečového pásu. Pochva byla u hrotu opatřena koženým nákončím.

Organické komponenty se poměrně četně objevují rovněž u norských mečů typu M. Jeden z mečů z Kaupangu měl dřevěnou rukojeť obtočenou provázkem či řemínkem a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou kůží (Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: 61). Fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí a pochev současně byly nalezeny u mečů z Brekke (B10670), Hogstadu (C52343), Kolstadu (T12963), Størenu (Androščuk 2014: 76, Pl. 111) a Åslandu (C58919). U meče z Nedre Øksnavadu (S12274) byla nalezena dřevěná rukojeť a pochva potažená textilem. Meč z Eikrem (T12199), který zřejmě přináleží k typu M, měl smrkovou pochvu s díly přichycenými svorkami, která byla potažená kůží a textilem. Meč ze Soggebakke (T16395) byl opatřen dřevěnou pochvou. Na mečích z Hallem søndre (T13555), Havsteinu (T15297) a Holtanu (T16280) byly nalezeny fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí. Toto je pouze omezený výčet, který bylo možné nalézt během krátkého pátrání, přesto jde o nesmírně cenný materiál, díky kterému si můžeme udělat dobrou představu, jak vypadal typický meč typu M.

typM-ondverdarnestypM-kaupang

Meče z islandského Öndverðarnesu a norského Kaupangu.
Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: Pl. 48; Eldjárn 2000: 326, 161. mynd.

Distribuce a datace

Pokud jde o rozšíření, zdá se, meče typu M jsou z velké části norskou doménou. Roku 1919 Petersen uvedl, že v celém Norsku známe nejméně 198 mečů typu M, z nichž nejméně 30 mělo jednobřitou čepel (Petersen 1919: 117–121). Za posledních 100 let však bylo objeveno nepřeberné množství nových nálezů, které každým rokem přibývají – kupříkladu ve Vestfoldu, který Petersen vůbec neuvádí, nyní již evidujeme 42 nálezů (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Nejvyšší koncentraci mečů typu M nalezneme ve východním Norsku a Sognsku, kde podle Pera Hernæse (1985) známe nejméně 375 mečů. Mikael Jakobsson (1992: 210) v Norsku eviduje 409 mečů. Současný počet bude zcela jistě ještě vyšší. Zřejmě nebudeme daleko od pravdy, pokud řekneme, že typ M je spolu s typem H/I jedním z nejrozšířenějších typů norských mečů. V okolních zemích známé mečů nepoměrně méně. Ve Švédsku je v současné době známo 10 exemplářů (Androščuk 2014: 69), na Islandu nejméně 4 (Eldjárn 2000: 330), ve Velké Británii známe nejméně 4 kusy (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 18, 26), 4 ve Francii (Jakobsson 1992: 211), 2 v Dánsku (Pedersen 2014: 80), 3 ve Finsku, 1 v Irsku a 1 v Německu (Jakobsson 1992: 211; Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Vytautas Kazakevičius (1996: 39) udává nejméně 9 mečů typu M z baltských zemí, nejméně dva meče z Polska a dva z České republiky. Podle Jiřího Košty z České republiky neznáme jediný nález meče typu M a jedná se o běžný mýtus hojně citovaný v literatuře (osobní diskuze s Jiřím Koštou). Baltské meče jsou specifické – jsou kratší a mají jednobřitou užší čepel, a proto jsou interpretovány jako místní produkty. Lze tedy říci, že evidujeme něco přes 440 kusů, i když reálně již bude mnohem více.

Co se datování týče, Petersen soudí, že se první meče tohoto typu v Norsku objevují někdy v polovině 9. století a přetrvávají do začátku 10. století (Petersen 1919: 121). Nové nálezy z východního Norska, zejména z Kaupangu, ukázaly, že do hrobů byly ukládány v 1. polovině 10. století (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Dva švédské kusy, které lze datovat, pocházejí z 10. století (Androščuk 2014: 69), což platí i pro islandské meče (Eldjárn 2000: 330). Polské kusy lze datovat do 9. století (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Meče typu M se tak objevují v širokém geografickém i chronologickém horizontu, a můžeme spekulovat o tom, zda podobnost není spíše náhodně způsobena jednoduchým designem.

typM
Rozšíření typu M ve východním Norsku a Songsku.
Podle Hernæse 1985; převzato z Blindheim et al. 1999: 81, Fig. 9.

Interpretace

Obecně vzato je meč jasně čitelným symbolem elitního postavení a moci. Je evidentní, že se staří Seveřané, stejně jako jiní lidé kdekoli na světě, porovnávali navzájem, např. dovednostmi a majetkem. Nezřídka se porovnávání zvrhlo v poměrně ostré dialogy, ve kterých se muži předháněli ve svých kvalitách (tzv. mannjafnaðr). Meče při tomto jistě napomáhaly jako prostředky demonstrace bohatství a přináležitosti k „vyšší společnosti“. Při dobrém pohledu nám klíčovou odpověď může dát Norsko, které bylo v 9. a 10. století multipolární a snahy rodů o centralizaci daly vzniknout společnosti, jež cítila silnou potřebu vyjádřit svou nezávislost či důležitost skrze kopírování elitního modelu – tedy vlastnictví mečů a jejich následné uložení do hrobů. Toto vedlo k tomu, že v Norsku nacházíme neskutečně obrovské množství mečů, které nemá obdoby. Společenské pnutí do určité míry zasáhlo všechny, ale jen někteří si mohli dovolit investovat nemalé jmění do exkluzivní zbraně. „Jednodušší“, avšak plnohodnotné meče typu M můžeme vnímat jako levnější alternativy, které svobodným, lépe situovaným sedlákůma jejich rodinám dávaly možnost vyzvednout svou identitu v době, kdy neexistovala jasně vymezená společenská hierarchie. To vysvětluje jejich vzhled i četnost, a to jak v mužských, tak i v ženských hrobech (Kjølen, C22541).

„Jílec meče tvoří jednoduché železné komponenty. Je to pragmatický meč, zřejmě nošený s pýchou, ale nikoli nejvyšší vrstvou společnosti. Tyto jednoduché a skromné meče se zdají být normou v hrobech z horských oblastí. Pravděpodobně byly vyrobeny nebo přinejmenším opatřeny jílcem v Norsku.“

Vegard Vike (2017)

Meče typu M se jeví jako užitkové zbraně, které však vlastníkům mohly sloužit k reprezentaci. Dva raritní norské meče – meč ze Strande (T1951) a meč z Lesji (C60900) – naznačují, že byly předávány nejméně 50 let a průběhu času byly aktualizovány, aby splňovaly nároky na módu, což lze vysledovat i u dalších vikinských mečů (Fedrigo et al. 2017: 425). Meč ze Strande má hlavici typu E, která byla dodatečně doplněna na řap s typologicky mladší záštitou typu M (Petersen 1919: 78, Fig. 66). Meč z Lesji tvoří čepel s řapem, na který byla namontována záštita z typologicky staršího meče typu C a hlavice typu M (Vike 2017). Nutno také dodat, že meč z Lesji byl objeven na ledovci, kde před více než 1000 lety nejspíše sloužil lovci sobů.

Lesja, Norsko (C60900). Skvěle zachovalý meč nalezený roku 2017 v ledovci. Záštita typu C, hlavice typu M. Celková délka 92,8 cm. Délka čepele 79,4 cm. Šířka čepele 6,2 cm. Tloušťka čepele 0,45 cm. Délka jílce 13,4 cm. Délka rukojeti 10,1 cm. Délka a výška záštity 7,5 cm × 1,7 cm. Váha 1203 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

Bibliografie

Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Biddle, Martin – Kjølbye-Biddle, Birthe (1992). Repton and the Vikings. In: Antiquity, Vol. 66, s. 38–51.

Bjørn, Anathon – Shetelig, Haakon (1940). Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part 4 : Viking Antiquities in England, Bergen.

Blindheim, Charlotte – Heyerdahl-Larsen, Birgit (1995). Kaupang-funnene, Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya. Undersøkelsene 1950–1957. Del A. Gravskikk, Oslo.

Blindheim, Ch. – Heyerdahl-Larsen, B. – Ingstad, Anne S. (1999). Kaupang-funnene. Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya: Undersøkelsene 1950–57. Del B. Oldsaksformer. Del C. Tekstilene, Oslo.

Fedrigo, Anna et al. (2017). Extraction of archaeological information from metallic artefacts—A neutron diffraction study on Viking swords. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12, s. 425–436.

Hernæs, Per (1985). De østnorske sverdfunn fra yngre jernalder : en geografisk analyse. Magistergradsavhandling i nordisk arkeologi – Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo.

Jakobsson, Mikael (1992). Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi, Stockholm : Stockholms Universitet.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). IX–XIII a. baltų kalavijai, Vilnius.

Pedersen, Anne (2014). Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000, Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 1. (Text), Copenhagen.

Peirce, I. G. (2002). Catalogue of Examples. In: Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. (eds). Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge: 25–144.

Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Vike, Vegard (2017). A Viking sword from Lesja. UiO Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.
https://www.khm.uio.no/english/research/collections/objects/15/sword_lesja.html

The helmet from Gjermundbu

On March 30 1943, Universitetets Oldsaksamling in Oslo gained the information that a farmer named Lars Gjermundbo found and dug into a huge mound on his land near the farm of Gjermundbu, Buskerud county, southern Norway. The place was examined by archaeologists (Marstrander and Blindheim) the next month and the result was really fascinating.

gjerm1

The plan of the mound. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. I.

The mound was 25 meters long, 8 meters broad in the widest place and 1.8 meters high in the middle part. The most of the mound was formed by stony soil; however, the interior of the middle part was paved with large stones. Some stones were found even 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, so called Grav I. 8 meters from Grav I, in the western part of the mound, the second grave was found, Grav II. Both graves represent cremation burials from the 2nd half of the 10th century and are catalogized under the mark C27317. Both graves were documented by Sigurd Grieg in Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike in 1947.

Grav I consists of dozens of objects connected to personal ownership and various activities, including fighting, archery, horse riding, playing games and cooking. Among others, the most interesting are unique objects, like the chain-mail and the helmet, which became very famous and are mentioned or depicted in every relevant publication.

Předpokládaná rekonstrukce bojovníka uloženého v Gjermundbu, 10. století. Podle

Possible reconstruction of the gear that was found in Grav I, Gjermundbu. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 155. The shape of the aventail is the weak point of the reconstruction.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

The helmet is often described as the only complete helmet known from the Viking Age. Unfortunately, it is not true, for at least two reasons. Firstly, the helmet is not by any means complete – it shows heavy damage and consists of only 17 fragments in the current state, which means one-fourth or one-third of the helmet. To be honest, fragments of the helmet are glued onto a plaster matrix (some of them in the wrong position) that has the rough form of the original helmet. Careless members of academia present this version as a reconstruction in the museum and in books, and this trend is then copied by reenactors and the general public. I have to agree with Elisabeth Munksgaard (Munksgaard 1984: 87), who wrote: “The Gjermundbu helmet is neither well preserved nor restored.

The current state of the helmet. Picture taken by Vegard Vike.

Secondly, there are at least 5 other published fragments of helmets spread across Scandinavia and areas with strong Scandinavian influence (see the article Scandinavian helmets of the 10th century). I am aware of several unpublished depictions and finds, whose reliability can not be proven. Especially, helmet fragments found in Tjele, Denmark, are very close to Gjermundbu helmet, since they consist of a mask and eight narrow metal bands 1 cm wide (see the article The helmet from Tjele). Based on the Gjermundbu helmet, Tjele helmet fragments and Kyiv mask (the shape of the original form of Lokrume fragment is unknown), we can clearly say that spectacle helmet type with decorated mask evolved from Vendel Period helmets and was the most dominant type of Scandinavian helmet until 1000 AD, when conical helmets with nasals became popular.

gjermbu8

An old reconstruction of the helmet, made by Erling Færgestad. Taken from Grieg 1947: Pl. VI.

To be fair, the helmet from Gjermundbu is the only spectacle type helmet of the Viking Age, whose construction is completely known. Let’s have a look at it!

gjermundbu

The scheme of the helmet. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

My mate Tomáš Cajthaml made a very nice scheme of the helmet, according to my instructions. The scheme is based on Grieg´s illustration, photos saved in the Unimus catalogue and observations made by researcher Vegard Vike.

The dome of the helmet is formed by four triangular-shaped plates (dark blue). Under the gap between each two plates, there is a narrow flat band, which is riveted to a somewhat curved band located above the gap between each two plates (yellow). In the nape-forehead direction, the flat band is formed by a single piece, that is extended in the middle (on the top of the helmet) and forms the base for the spike (light bluethe method of attaching the spike is not known to me). There are two flat bands in the lateral direction (green). Triangular-shaped plates are riveted to each corner of the extended part of the nape-forehead band. A broad band, with visible profiled line, is riveted to the rim of the dome (red; it is not known how the ends of this piece of metal connected to each other). Two rings were connected to the very rim of the broad band, probably remnants of the aventail. In the front, the decorated mask is riveted onto the broad band.

© 2016 Kulturhistorisk museum, UiO

Since all known dimensions are shown in the scheme, let me add some supplementary facts. Firstly, four somewhat curved bands are shown a bit differently in the scheme – they are more curved in the middle part and tapering near ends. Secondly, the spike is a very important feature and rather a matter of aesthetic than practical usage. Regarding the aventail, rings have the spacing of at least 2 cm. On contrary to chain-mail, rings from the helmet are very thick and probably butted, since no trace of rivets were found. It can not be said whether they represent the aventail, and if so, what it looked like and whether the aventail was hanging on rings or on a wire that was drawn through the rings (see my article about hanging devices of early medieval aventails). Talking about the mask, X-ray showed at least 40 lines, which form eyelashes, similarly to Lokrume helmet mask (see the article The helmet from Lokrume). In spite of modern tendencies, neither traces of metal inlay nor droplets of melted metal were found. The mask shows a two-part construction, overlaped and forge-welded at each temple and in the nose area (according to the X-ray picture taken by Vegard Vike). There is a significant difference between the thickness of plates and bands and the mask; even the mask shows uneven thickness. Initially, the surface of the helmet could be polished, according to Vegard Vike.

I believe these notes will help to the new generation of more accurate reenactors. Not counting rings, the helmet could be formed from 14 pieces and at least 33 rivets. Such a construction is a bit surprising and seems not so solid. In my opinion, this fact will lead to the discussion of reenactors whether the helmet represents a war helmet or rather a ceremonial / symbolical helmet. I personally think there is no need to see those two functions as separated.

I am very indebted to my friends Vegard Vike, who answered all my annoying question, young artist and reenactor Tomáš Cajthaml and Samuel Collin-Latour. I hope you liked reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon.


Bibliography

GRIEG, Sigurd (1947). Gjermundbufunnet : en høvdingegrav fra 900-årene fra Ringerike, Oslo.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo.

MUNKSGAARD, Elisabeth (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster, 85–89.

Lamellar Armours of the Viking Age

This article is a translation of my Czech article “Lamelové zbroje ze Snäckgärde?” (Lamellar Armour from Snäckgärde?). The article was well accepted and was later translated to Spanish (“Armadura lamellar en la Escandinavia vikinga“) and Portuguese (“Armadura lamelar na Escandinávia Viking“). If you like my research, you can write me anytime or support me on my Patreon site.

Lamellar armours in Scandinavia
vikingerikrig

The reconstruction of the Birka warrior. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 347.

The question of lamellar armour is popular among both experts and reenactors. I myself have dealt with this issue several times and I have collected the literature. My research led me to virtually unknown finds from Snäckgärde, which lies near Visby on Gotland. These finds did not survive, but are described by priest Nils Johan Ekdahl (1799–1870), which is called “the first scientific Gotlandic archaeologist.”

The reason why finds from Snäckgärde are unknown is that they were discovered almost 200 years ago and were lost. The literature about them is hardly accessible and mostly unknown for scholars of non-Swedish origin.  All I managed to find is this: in the year 1826, four graves with skeletons were examined in the site called Snäckgärde (Visby, Land Nord, SHM 484), and the most interesting of these four graves are those with number 2 and 4 (Carlson 1988: 245; Thunmark-Nylén 2006: 318):

Grave no. 2: grave with skeleton oriented in the south-north direction, spherical mound lined with stones. The funeral equipment consisted of an iron axe, a ring located at the waist, two opaque beads in the neck area and “some pieces of armour on the chest” (något fanns kvar and pansaret på bröstet).

Grave no. 4: grave with skeleton in east-west direction, spherical mound, 0.9 meter high, with sunken top. Inside the mound, there was a coffin of limestone, with dimensions of 3 m × 3 m (?). A ringed-pin was found the right shoulder of the dead. At waist level, a ring from the belt was discovered. Another parts of the equipment were an axe and “several scales of armour” (några pansarfjäll), found at the chest.

Judging by the funerary remains, it can be assumed that two men were laid in these mounds with their armours. Of course, we can not say for sure what kind of armours they were, but they seem to be lamellar armour, especially because of analogies and the mention of scales (Thunmark-Nylén 2006: 318). Dating is problematic. Lena Thunmark-Nylén mantioned both armours in her publications about Viking Age Gotland. Pins and belt fragments also points to the Viking Age. However, what is the most important are axes – according to Ekhdal´s drawings, the axe from the grave no. 2 is a broad axe, while the axe from the grave no. 4 had the handle decorated with brass. A broad axe could be dated from the end of the 10th or from early 11th century, and the brass coated handle is a feature of some axes from the early 11th century (Thames, Langeid and another sites on Gotland, see my article “Two-handed axes). It seems logical to suppose that both graves were constructed in the same century, although there are some minor differences in the construction and the orientation of graves.

lamely_birka

The hall of Birka with finds of chainmail rings and lamellae. Taken from Ehlton 2003: 16, Fig. 18. Made by Kjell Persson.

In Scandinavia, only one analogy of lamellar armour (or rather fragments) has been known so far, from Birka (see for example Thordeman 1939: 268; Stjerna 2001; Stjerna 2004Hedenstierna-Jonson 2006: 55, 58; Hjardar – Vike 2011: 193–195; Dawson 2013 and others). Lamellae were scattered around the so called Garrison (Garnison) and they number 720 pieces (the biggest piece consisted of 12 pieces). 267 lamellae could be analyzed and classified into 8 types, which probably served to protect different parts of the body. It is estimated that the armour from Birka protected the chest, back, shoulders, belly and legs down to knees (Stjerna 2004: 31). The armour was dated to the first part of 10th century (Stjerna 2004: 31). Scholars agree on it´s nomadic origin from Near or Middle East and it´s closest paralel comes from Balyk-Sook (for example Dawson 2002; Gorelik 2002: 145; Stjerna 2004: 31). Stjerna (2007: 247) thinks that armour and other excelent objects were not designed for war and were rather symbolic („The reason for having these weapons was certainly other than military or practical“). Dawson (2013) stands partially in opposition and claims that the armour was wrongly interepreted, because only three types from eight could be lamellae and the number of real lamellae is not enough for a half of chest armour. His conclusion is that lamellae from Birka are only pieces of recycled scrap. In the light of armours from Snäckgärde, which are not included in Dawson´s book, I consider this statement to be hasty.

lamelovka_birka

The reconstruction of the Birka armour on the basis of Balyk-Sook armour. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 195.

People often think that there are many finds from the area of Old Russia. In fact, there are only a few finds from the period of 9th-11th century and they can be interpreted as eastern import, just like the example from Birka (personal conversation with Sergei Kainov; see Kirpichnikov 1971: 14-20). From this early period, finds come for example from Gnezdovo and Novgorod. The Russian material dated between 11th-13th is much more abundant, including about 270 finds (see Medvedev 1959; Kirpichnikov 1971: 14-20). However, it is important to note that until the second half of the 13th century, the number chainmail fragments is four times higher than fragments of lamellar armour, pointing out that the chainmail was the predominant type of armour in the territory of Old Russia (Kirpichnikov 1971: 15). With high probability, Old Russian lamellar armour from the Viking Age came from Byzantium, where they were dominant thanks to their simpler design and lower cost already in the 10th century (Bugarski 2005: 171).

A Note for Reenactors

The lamellar armour has become very popular among reenactors. At some festivals and events, lamellar armours count more than 50% of armours. The main arguments for usage are:

  • Low production price
  • More protection
  • Faster production
  • Great look

While these arguments are understandable, it has to be stressed that lamellar armour is in no way suitable for Viking Age reenactment. The argument that this type of armour was used by Rus can be counteracted by the fact that even in the time of the greatest expansion of lamellar armours in Russia, the number of chainmail armours was four times higher. What is more, lamellar armours were imported. If we keep the basic idea that the reenactment should be based on the reconstruction of typical objects, then it must be clear that the lamellar armour is only suitable for Nomad and Byzantine reenactment. The same applies to leather lamellar armour.

An example of well reconstructed lamellar armour. Viktor Kralin.

On the other hand, the finds from Birka and Snäckgärde suggest that this type of armour could occur in the eastern part of Scandinavia. Before any conclusion, we have to take into consideration that Birka and Gotland were territories of strong influences of Eastern Europe and Byzantium. This is also the reason for accumulation of artifacts of Eastern provenance, otherwise not known from Scandinavia. In a way, it would be strange if we had not these finds, especially from the period when they were popular in Byzantium. However, this does not mean that the lamellar armours were common in this area. Lamellar armour stands isolated from Norse warrior tradition and armours of this type sometimes occured in Baltic region until the 14th century (Thordeman 1939: 268269). Chainmail armour can be identified as the predominant form of armour in Viking Age Scandinavia, like in Old Russia. This statement can be verified by the fact that the chainmail rings were found in Birka itself (Ehlton 2003). Regarding the production of lamellar armour in the Scandinavian and Russian territory, there is no evidence to support that this was happening and such a production is highly improbable.

If lamellar armour should be tolerated in Viking reenactment, then

  • the reenactor has to reenact Baltic area or Rus area.
  • it has to be used in limited number (1 lamellar armour per group or 1 lamellar armour per 4 chainmail armours).
  • only metal lamellar armours are allowed, not leather ones or visibly lasered ones.
  • it has to correspond to finds from Birka (or Gnezdovo or Novgorod), not Visby.
  • it can not be combined with Scandinavian components like buckles.

The armour has to look like the original and has to be supplemented by appropriate gear, like Russian helmets. If we are in a debate between two positions “Yes to lamellar armours” or “No to lamellar armours“, ignoring the possibility “Yes to lamellar armours (without taking aforementioned arguments in account)“, I choose the option “No to lamellar armours”. And what is or opinion?

Literature

Bugarski, Ivan (2005). A contribution to the study of lamellar armors. In: Starinar 55, 161—179. Online: http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0350-0241/2005/0350-02410555161B.pdf.

Carlsson, Anders (1988). Penannular brooches from Viking Period Gotland, Stockholm.

Ehlton, Fredrik (2003). Ringväv från Birkas garnison, Stockholm. Online: http://www.erikds.com/pdf/tmrs_pdf_19.pdf.

Dawson, Timothy (2002). Suntagma Hoplôn: The Equipment of Regular Byzantine Troops, c. 950 to c. 1204. In: D. Nicolle (ed.). Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour, Woodbridge, 81–90.

Dawson, Timothy (2013). Armour Never Wearies : Scale and Lamellar Armour in the West, from the Bronze Age to the 19th Century, Stroud.

Gorelik, Michael (2002). Arms and armour in south-eastern Europe in the second half of the first millennium AD. In: D. Nicolle (ed.). Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour, Woodbridge, 127–147.

Hedenstierna-Jonson, Charlotte (2006). The Birka Warrior – the material culture of a martial society, Stockholm. Online: http://su.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:189759/FULLTEXT01.pdf.

Kirpichnikov, Anatolij N. (1971). Древнерусское оружие. Вып. 3. Доспех, комплекс боевых средств IX—XIII вв, Moskva.

Medvedev, Аlexandr F. (1959) К истории пластинчатого доспеха на Руси //Советская археология, № 2, 119—134. Online: http://swordmaster.org/2010/05/10/a-f-medvedev-k-istorii-plastinchatogo-dospexa-na.html.

Stjerna, Niklas (2001). Birkas krigare och deras utrustning. In: Michael Olausson (ed.). Birkas krigare, Stockholm, 39–45.

Stjerna, Niklas (2004). En stäppnomadisk rustning från Birka. In: Fornvännen 99:1, 28–32. Online: http://samla.raa.se/xmlui/bitstream/handle/raa/3065/2004_027.pdf?sequence=1.

Stjerna, Niklas. (2007). Viking-age seaxes in Uppland and Västmanland : craft production and eastern connections. In: U. Fransson (ed). Cultural interaction between east and west, Stockholm, 243–249.

Thunmark-Nylén, Lena (2006). Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands III: 1–2 : Text, Stockholm.

The sword from Sarskoe Gorodishche

ANALYSIS
mec_leontiev

A drawing of the sword. Taken from Leontiev 1996 : 120, Fig 47:7.

Sarskoe Gorodishche (Hillfort on the bank of the Sara River) is one of the few settlements on the territory of ancient Russia, where a large amount of Scandinavian material culture occured. Both quality and quantity bears witness of not only trade contacts, but also of direct Scandinavian presence on the site. The most representative collection of Scandinavian objects is weaponry, mainly arrow tips, sword and seax chapes and a sword. The sword will be the topic of this article.

According to some sources, the sword was discovered on the slope of Sarskoe Gorodishche by D. N. Eding and D. A. Ushakov in 1930. However, the sword was firstly published A. N. Kirpichnikov in 1966, as a find from a mound (Kirpichnikov 1966: 80, No. 49). The sword was studied several times (Kirpichnikov 1992: 79, Leontiev 1996: 121; Kainov 2000: 252-256); nevetherless, in 2003, the sword was studied again and some new decoration was discovered. At the present time, the weapon is deposited in Architecture and Art Museum in Rostov (Ростовское архитектурно-художественное музей; catalogue number Р 10335, А- 92).

The lenght of the sword is 94.6 cm, the blade is 78.4 cm long. The blade has the width of 55 mm by the crossguard and 30 mm by the tip (30 mm far from the tip, respectively). The thickness of the blade by the crossguard is 5 mm. The fuller is 23 mm wide and 1 mm deep in the upper part of the blade. The crossguard (lower guard) is 90 mm wide and 20 mm high, while the upper guard (base of the pommel) is 80 mm wide and 20 mm high. The pommel has the height of 46 mm.

description_sword

Description of sword parts, according to Peirce – Oakenshott 2002.

mec_kainov

The sword from Sarskoe Gorodishche. Taken from Kainov 2011: 152, Fig. 10.

Both hilt and blade are very well preserved. The shape of the hilt belongs to the Petersen type E, which was very popular type with at least 130 examples in whole Europe (39 from Sweden, 38 from Norway, 20 from Finland, 15 from the Ancient Rus, 6 from Estonia, 6 from the former Prussia, 4 from Ireland, 1 from Poland and 1 from Denmark; Kainov 2012: 19-21 and my personal observations). More correctly, the shape of the hilt should be classified as the subtype E3. This subtype is “represented by hilts decorated with oval pits arranged in trefoil or quatrefoil compositions” (Androshchuk 2014: 53; Kainov 2001: 57). To compare, Androshchuk lists at least 5 Swedish swords of the subtype E3 (ibid.). Until 2003, all studies had been pointing out that the sword from Sarskoe Gorodishche had been a typical example of this subtype, but after the examination, the sword showed to be rather unique. The reason is its decoration, which is not typical for any subtype of the type E. The decoration is why we should thing the sword forms “a separate variant of the E-type swords” (Kainov 2011: 149).

mec_kainov2

Four main types of pit decoration on swords of the type E (E1, E2, E3, E4). After Kainov 2001: 57, Fig. 4, taken from Androshchuk 2014: 52, Fig. 14.

In 2003, a diagonal grid of inlayed yellow metal wire was discovered on both sides of the pommel. The wire is about 1 mm thick. Such a decoration is very rare and the closest analogies – two swords from Gotland (SHM 16905, GF C 4778) – belong to the Mannheim sword type (special type 2), with not less than 20 examples dating from the second half of the 8th century to the beginning of the 9th century (Kainov 2011: 148).

What is more, the examination discovered the fact that pits situated on the central part of the pommel, upper and lower guards are not oval nor round, but square. To my knowledge, no other sword shows this type of pit decoration. These pits are arranged in a checkerboard pattern, sometimes quite uneven. Corners of pits are connected with grooves, which were probably empty and were punched after applying inlayed stripes from yellow metal. Inlayed stripes always occur in paires or threesomes between pits; they are uneven, with spaces ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 mm.

The upper guard and the pommel were separated with a helix from twisted wires of yellow metal. By the same method, the central part of the pommel was separated from side parts. The helix is stamped in order to form pearl-like balls (so called beaded wire). This method is rare on Viking Age swords, with only several known examples from Norway (C8598 – type E, B6685a – type H), Sweden (SHM 34000:942 – special type, SHM 34000:850 – type H/I), Denmark (C3118 – special type 1), Ireland (WK-5 – type K, WK-33 – type D) or France (JPO 2249 – type H). Ends of wire helix is hidden under the pommel.

Details of the hilt of the sword. Taken from Kainov 2011: Fig. 2-9.

mec_geibig

Geibig’s typology of blades. Taken from Geibig 1991: 84, Abb. 22.

The blade belongs to the Geibig’s type 3, which is dated to period between 750 and 975 AD and is characterised by gently tapering blade with tapering fuller, blade lenght between 74 and 85 cm and blade width between 5.2 and 5.7 cm (Geibig 1991: 86, 154; Jones 2002: 22-23). On one side of the blade, there is an unique Latin inscription +LVNVECIT+, on the other side can be found the sign IᛞI (horizontally situated hourglass with two vertical bars before and after). These inscriptions are made by welding of simple iron rod on the surface. The method of welded inscriptions can be attested on dozens of European swords; the raw material varied from iron and steel rods to pattern welded material (see Moilanen 2006).

The most common welded Latin names on blades are Vlfberht, Ingelrii and Hiltipreht, while the less known are AbboAtalbald, Banto, Benno, (C)erolt, Gecelin, HartolfrInno, (L)eofri(c), LeutlritNisoPulfbrii or Ulen. These names probably denote makers or workshops, since some names have the addition (me)fecit, “made (me)”. Among others, magical formulas occur sometimes (their shortcuts respectively), like SOOSO (“S[ALVATOR] O[MNIPOTENS] O[MNIPOTENS] S[ALVATOR] O[MNIPOTENS]) or INIOINI (I[N] N[OMINE] I[ESU] O[MNIPOTENS] …). As the result, the inscription +LVNVECIT+ (“Lun made”) denote the unknown maker Lun and the sign IᛞI is probably the shortcut for the formula In nomine Iesu (“In the name of Jesus”).

mec_napis

The inscription on the blade. Taken from Kainov 2011: 151, Fig. 4.

Regarding the dating of the sword, it is very complicated to date an untypical object like this one. Besides some exceptions, Scandinavian swords of the type E are dated to the 9th century, while Russian examples are dated to the 10th century (Kainov 2011: 149). So, the shape of the hilt can be dated to the 9th or 10th century. The diagonal inlayed grid on the sides of the pommel has analogies in the 8th and 9th century. The beaded wire was used in the same period, in the 8th and 9th century. The shape of the blade can be dated to the period between 750 and 975 AD. Mentioned Latin names were used from the 9th to 11th century. It seems logic to think that the sword from Sarskoe Gorodishche belongs to the transitional type between the Mannheim type (special type 2) and the type E (Kainov 2011: 149). The sword, or at least the blade, was probably made in the 9th century on the Continent and used until the 10th century by a man with strong connections with Scandinavia.

mec_komplet

The complete sword. Taken from Kainov 2011: 150, Fig. 1.

 

REPRODUCTION

The sword from Sarskoe Gorodishche has been recently (winter 2015 – spring 2016) replicated by famous Belorussian swordmaker, skillful crafter and my friend Dmitry Khramtsov (aka Truin Stenja). Even though I think the sword is the best copy of the found, I hold the opinion that the Dmitry’s version needs a short comment.

mec_arendt

The method of “container” with inner parts braided with silver wire. Taken from Kainov 2011: 24, 28, Fig. 12, 15; Arendt 1936: 314, Fig. 2.

Regarding the sizes, the sword is true copy. The weight of the sword is 1370 grams, an average weight for a type E sword. The inscription was correctly done from iron rods. The handle was made from bog oak, which seems to be a good choice, as no traces of the organic handle survived. The upper guard and the pommel are hollowed, which is characteristic for the type E. Inlayed motives on the hilt (stripes and the diagonal grid) are made from copper alloy wire in the right manner. What is striking on this copy is the usage of silver wire grid in pits and grooves. This decoration is not known from any sword find and it seems like misunderstanding of a rare method used on several swords of types E and T from Sweden (Gräfsta [SHM 19464:6]; Birka grave 524 [SHM 34000:524]), Russia (Gnezdovo mound L-13; Ust-Ribezgno mound XIX and a sword deposited in Kazan museum) and Ukraine (Gulbishche) (see Androshchuk 2014: 53; Arendt 1936; Kainov 2012: 19-25). The method is described by Arendt (1936: 314):

“Both guard and the pommel form a kind of containers or coverings, which contain smaller but equally shaped parts. These latter [inner parts] were braided with silver wires and placed in the way that their crossings were just under the pits in containers.”

It seems that Dmitry based his version on some pictures of destroyed hilts, where the wire jutted out through damaged pits to the surface. However, I still think that Dmitry’s copy is the best version of the sword ever made and that Dmitry took the chance to fill rather illogical (and pattern destroying) grooves with more decoration. We should understand the version as a combination of outstanding replica and a free interpretation of the author.

If you wish to write to the author, please, use this email adress:
truin.dimastai@mail.ru

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This article would never existed without the spectacular work of Dmitry Khramtsov, who inspired me and kindly send me photos in original resolution. All my thanks and respect also go to Sergey Kainov, who helped me with his best advices and answered all my bothering questions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Androshchuk 2014 = Androshchuk, F. (2014). Viking swords : swords and social aspects of weaponry in Viking Age societies. Stockholm.

Arendt 1936 = Arendt, W. W. (1936). Ett svärdsfäste från vikingatiden. In: Fornvännen 31, pp. 313-315. Online.

Geibig 1991 = Geibig, A. (1991). Beiträge zur morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter : eine Analyse des Fundmaterials vom ausgehenden 8. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert aus Sammlungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Neumünster.

Jones 2002 = Jones, L. A. (2002). Overview of Hilt and Blade Classifications. In. Oakeshott E. – Peirce I. G. Swords of the Viking Age, pp. 15-24.

Kainov 2000 = Kainov, S. Yu. (2000). Меч с Сарского городища. / Сообщения Ростовского музея. Вып.Х. pp. 252-256. Online.

Kainov 2001 = Kainov, S. Yu. (2001). Еще раз о датировке гнёздовского кургана с мечом из раскопок М.Ф.Кусцинского (К вопросу о нижней дате Гнёздовского могильника) // Гнёздово. 125 лет исследования памятника. Труды Государственного Исторического музея. Вып. 124, pp. 54-63. Online.

Kainov 2011 = Kainov, S. Yu. (2011). Новые данные о мече с Сарского городища // Военная археология. Вып.2. Сборник материалов Проблемного Совета “Военная археология” при Государственном Историческом музее, pp. 147-152. Online.

Kainov 2012 = Kainov, S. Yu. (2012). Swords from Gnёzdovo. In: Acta Militaria Mediaevalia VIII, pp. 7-68. Online.

Kirpichnikov 1966 = Kirpichnikov, A. N. (1966). Древнерусское оружие: Вып. 1. Мечи и сабли IX– XIII вв.// АН СССР, Москва.

Kirpichnikov 1992 = Kirpichnikov, A. N. (1992). Новообнаруженные клейма раннесредневековых мечей // Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae. Fasc. V, pp. 61-81.

Leontiev 1996 = Leontiev А. Е. (1996). Археология мери. К предыстории Северо-Восточной Руси // Археология эпохи великого переселения народов и раннего средневековья. Выпуск 4, Москва.

Moilanen 2009 = Moilanen, M. (2009). On the manufacture of iron inlays on sword blades: an experimental study. In: Fennoscandia archaeologica XXVI: pp. 23-38. Online.

Petersen 1919 = Petersen, J. (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Scandinavian helmets of the 10th century

In this article, we will have a short look at evidences of helmets used in Scandinavia during the 10th century. Pictures of modern replicas are added as well.

Spectacle helmets:

Nasal helmets:

Unknown types:

Russian helmets in Scandinavia:

Conclusion

Bibliography


Spectacle helmets

Gnëzdovo

Object, context A head on the sacrificial (or weaving?) knife from Gnëzdovo, Russia, mound number 74. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description The head is rather schematic. Fechner writes, that the head is covered with a helmet that has typical hemisphere shape with spectacle mask. No visible spike on the top, no visible decoration. Sizov´s picture shows rather a head with beard.
Literature Fechner 1965; Sizov 1902: 91, Fig. 59, 60.

 

Gjermundbu

Object, context The only complete Viking Age helmet found in Gjermundbu mound 1, Norway. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description The dome is made from 4 pieces connected with 4 quadrant ribs of semicircular section. There is a spike on the top and a plate connected to the rim of the dome. The mask is from one piece, is decorated with silvar inlay and is riveted to the plate. There are some traces of the rings on the plate, indicating that a kind of neck guard was used.
Literature Grieg 1947; Tweddle 1992: 1125-1128; Vlasatý 2016

 

Tjele

 

Object, context A mask fragment found among the forging equipment in Tjele, Denmark 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron mask decorated with bronze plates. The nasal is broken. It is possible there were some rivets on the nasal, indicating the mask was made from several pieces.
Literature Kirpichnikov 1973Tweddle 1992. 1126, 1128; Vlasatý 2015b.

 

Kyiv

Object, context A mask from a helmet found in Desjatinna Church in Kyiv, Ukraine. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron mask decorated with silver and gold coating and silver inlay. The nasal is broken. It is sure there were some rivets on the nasal, indicating the mask was made from several pieces. Some people suggest reversed position of the mask.
Literature Kirpichnikov 1973Tweddle 1992. 1126, 1129; Vlasaty 2018a.

 

Nasal helmets

Middleton

Object, context A Scandinavian (Anglo-Scandinavian?) warrior depicted on the Middleton Cross B, England. 10th century.
Description The head is rather schematic. The helmet has conical shape with integral nasal. No visible decoration.
Literature Graham-Campbell 1980: cat. no. 537.

 

Prague

Object, context The so-called helmet of Saint Wenceslaus. The nasal and the rim are probably of Gotlandic origin, 2nd half of the 10th century, the dome is later addition (but the original dome might be similar).
Description Both nasal and rim are decorated with silver inlay and coating. The decoration of the rim resembles the piece from Lokrume. The figure on the nasal is important example of mixing pagan religion with Christianity.
Literature Hejdová 1964; Vlasaty 2018b.

 

Unknown types

Lokrume

Object, context A mask fragment from a helmet found in Lokrume, Gotland. 2nd half of the 10th century.
Description Iron fragment richly decorated with silver and copper inlay/overlay. The nasal is broken. It is impossible to claim whether the fragment belonged to spectacle or nasal helmets.
Literature Lindqvist 1925; Vlasatý 2015c.

 

Birka

Object, context A fragment of what could be an aventail holder. Found in the hall in Birka, 950 – 970 AD.
Description Gilded iron plate with teeth on one side. A hole for the rivet is visible. This fragment could be used as an aventail holder that can be seen on some early medieval helmets.
Literature Vlasatý 2015a.

 

Russian helmets in Scandinavia

Birka

Object, context Fragments of what could be a Russian helmet. Found in the hall of Birka. 950-970 AD.
Description Two gilded fragments decorated with birds and a flower and one tinned bronze conus. Rests of silvers and iron rivets are still present. It is impossible to claim whether these fragments belonged to one or two helmets.
Literature Holmquist Olausson – Petrovski 2007; Vlasatý 2014.

 

Conclusion

The number of the evidence is sufficient to claim there were 3 types of helmets in Scandinavia during the 10th century. Spectacle helmet was the most dominant and traditional type, nasal helmets probably represent a new Continental fashion and Russian helmets (like spectacle helmets in Gnëzdovo and Kyiv) form the evidence of close relations between Eastern Europe and Eastern Scandinavia. Spectacle helmets were used until 1000 AD, conical helmets with nasals became widespread in the 11th century (Munksgaard 1984: 88).

It has to be stressed that all examples are richly decorated – we can not find any proof of undecorated examples. Undecorated helmets used in 10th century reenactment are rather a reeenactism. Even the nasal of the Saint Wenceslaus helmet is decorated, even though there is no other proof of decorated conical helmet with a nasal. The tradition of helmet decoration has to be seen as important; it is obvious that decorated masks had been used to terrify oponents and to show exceptional status.

We can not see any cheek guards or chainmail aventails on masks – these devices were used on finds from different centuries and were not used in the 10th century.

Old Norse literature, mainly skaldic poetry, can bring some interesting facts as well. For example, Norwegian king Hákon the Good († 961 AD) was buried with his “gilded” helmet and another pieces of gear and his skald Eyvindr praises his arrival to Valhǫll, where he refuses to hand off his equipment.

Many authors claimed there is almost no evidence because of the weight of helmets. However, the true reason of this is that helmets were very expensive and were worn only by nobles and their retinues.

In case of deeper interest, I reccomend my further work, Grafnir hjálmar : A Comment on the Viking Age Helmets, Their Developement and Usage (in Czech).

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