Did the Vikings Ever Wear Winged Helmets in Battle?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Did the Vikings Ever Wear Winged Helmets in Battle?

Gone are the days of the Viking glory. What left is the remains of traditional culture via textual and oral sources. But there is always a credibility gap between what was historical and what was exaggeration. Many of us might know that the horned helmet didn't appear in the Viking battle until the 19th-century artwork which made the Viking horned helmet a trend by a night. And what about the winged helmet which might not gain so much popularity like the horned ones? Did the winged helmets really exist? If yes, what case?

Image of Viking winged helmet Viking warrior

Viking winged helmet: historical or modern exaggeration?

Viking winged helmets were historical?

Go straight to the question: Did the Vikings ever wear the winged helmet to enter the battle?

Short answer: No, they didn't

Long answer: Imagine what would happen if the warriors wore the winged helmets into the battle. This only can prove that the Viking warriors would never wear such armour to join the situation which their life depended on. The battlefield favoured what was simple and light but still protective enough to wear. What was the advantage that the winged helmets gave to the warriors in their battle? The hindrance to moving smooth and the higher chance to be taken over by the enemies. Like the horned helmets, the enemies could easily grasp the tail of the wing and gain the upper hand thanks to the winged helmets. 

Image of the Viking valkyries

Viking Valkyries with the horned helmets

Image of the historical Valkyries

The archaeological statue of Valkyries

However, in some depiction of the Norse gods and the Valkyries (Odin's female helping spirits), they appear with the winged helmets. However, scholars claimed that such depictions of the Norse figures could be traced back to the artists of the Romantic Movement. The Romantic artists might have influenced not only the depiction of the mythological Norse gods but also the Viking warriors. 

Did the winged helmet ever appear in the Viking age?

As far as we know, though the horned helmets didn't appear in the real battlefield, it appeared in the Oseberg Tapestry one of the most famous and valuable Viking artifacts. And what about the winged helmet?

One archaeological discovery showed a small statue of Odin wearing the helmet with birds on his helmet. In the beginning, people believed it was the horned helmet. However, they finally discovered that the statue was broken and the heads of the birds were missing, leaving the helmet with the protrusion like the horns. Overall, the helmet in the Odin figurine does not actually go with the wings but there are, after all, two birds perching on the top of the helmets. 

Image of odin statue with helmet

The figurine depicted a one-eyed man with the helmet

Image of depiction of Odin

Odin wearing the helmet with ravens presenting Huginn and Muninn and his hands holding the head of Mimir

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