The only complete viking helmet ever found - Gjermundbu

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The popular image of the Vikings is one of fearsome warriors wearing horned helmets. Many depictions of the Vikings display this particular attribute. However, there is only one preserved helmet from the Viking Age and this does not have horns.

On March 30 1943, historians 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, southern Norway. The place was examined by archaeologists (Marstrander and Blindheim) the next month and the result was really fascinating.

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. It is believed that one of the buried men was a petty king from the Ringerike area.

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.

The helmet is often described as the only complete helmet known from the Viking Age. 

The helmet was made of iron and was in the shape of a peaked cap made from four plates.The helmet consists of the spangen, or a horizontal rim and two vertical strips which together form the framework of the helmet, onto which the iron plates are riveted. The Gjermundbu is a typical example of a Viking spectical helmet, which offers the carrier good face protection while also guaranteeing an adequate field of vision. The helmet shares similarities with other preceding helmet designs, such as the Vendel helmets. These include the rounded cap, the spectacles, as well as the mail aventail.  It is now on display at the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo. 



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