Did Ancient Warriors Really Go to Battle Wearing Winged Helmets?

Aug 2017
35
Zadar
#1
Here is an Article I came up with:
Did Ancient Warriors Really Go to Battle Wearing Winged Helmets? | Ancient Origins
Were Winged Helmets Actually Used?
Despite these representations in art, there is a dearth of archaeological evidence to support the imaginings of the Romantic artists. For instance, there has been no discovery so far of actual winged helmets, as we would imagine, from either the Viking or the Celtic realms. It has been suggested that the notion of northern barbarians wearing winged helmets comes from ancient Greek and Roman texts. The priests of the Celts, for instance, are said to have used winged helmets during certain religious ceremonies. Still, such headgear would not have been used by warriors in battle, as they would have been cumbersome, and would be more of a liability than an asset.

Share your thoughts on this.

Thanks in Advance.
 
Jan 2015
2,813
MD, USA
#2
I'm not sure why your article says there are no Celtic examples of winged helmets, then shows a photo of the winged Celtic helmet from Ciumesti? Pretty solid archeological evidence at least of their *existence*. Plus there are depictions from various places (Gundestrup Cauldron, e.g.).

Of course the debate is whether these were used in battle or not. I really hate to declare that they could *not* have done so--that's just blatantly imposing our own viewpoints and preconceptions on people who had very different needs and priorities from our own. If putting up with a little top-heaviness and extra weight for an hour meant I got to wear the most bad-ass helmet on the battlefield, *I* would certainly go for it! The point that gets missed so often when arguing about battle versus ceremony is that battle WAS ceremony! There was all kinds of ritual and custom wrapped up in it.

And bling MATTERED. It was part of the show.

There are several other Attic helmets (mostly from Italy, I believe) with even bigger and more extravagent wings. Also an Archaic Corinthian helmet with honking big cow horns made of flat sheet bronze--there are several depictions in artwork of such horns, as well as some very exciting crests, etc.

From Late Bronze Age Denmark we have the Vikso helmets, a pair of spectacular helmets found together, with fabulous larged curved horns like handlebars! Those I suspect *were* more ceremonial, since there are numerous depictions and miniatures of a pair of (apparently) gods wearing those exact headpieces. But yes, these helmets undoubtedly helped inspire the whole Viking-horned-helmet mythology!

On the other hand, go back to the Bronze Age, and we find horned helmets all over the Mediterranean--Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Sardinia, you name it, they LOVED their horned helmets! No reason at all that they were not worn in battle.

Doesn't mean the Vikings did, of course!

Matthew
 
Jan 2018
283
Netherlands
#3
Still, such headgear would not have been used by warriors in battle, as they would have been cumbersome, and would be more of a liability than an asset.
Well, the same could be said about the crested helmets of the hoplites, which -if the ancient vase paintings are to be trusted in this respect- were apparently worn in battle nonetheless.



Medieval miniatures also depict knights wearing winged helmets in battle scenes, especially during tournaments.

 
Oct 2013
5,897
Planet Nine, Oregon
#4
Also, if you are on a horse or chariot and don't have to march with it.. And some elaborate crests were possibly made from lightweight wood and leather and horsehair, not solid bronze. Scale helmets are heavy, but if you are just sweeping past on a chariot shooting arrows, it isn't as big of a deal, perhaps.


The one Matt was mentioning:
 
Jan 2018
283
Netherlands
#5
On the other hand, go back to the Bronze Age, and we find horned helmets all over the Mediterranean--Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Sardinia, you name it, they LOVED their horned helmets! No reason at all that they were not worn in battle.
Ancient art suggests that this was the case.

 
Aug 2014
3,814
Australia
#6
Yes they existed in many cultures and they were intended to be worn in battle. We know that Celts and Scandinavians both wore winged and horned helmets, though there is no evidence dating to the Viking Period.
 
Oct 2016
933
Merryland
#9
I suspect horns or wings or other accessories were knocked off in battle and thus not found by archaeologists.

in the Bible, I Kings 22:11, there is mentioned a man named Zedekiah who 'had made horns of iron', presumably a helmet with same.
 
Jan 2015
2,813
MD, USA
#10
I suspect horns or wings or other accessories were knocked off in battle and thus not found by archaeologists.
Well, it's usually pretty easy to tell if a helmet had something attached to it or not. The one surviving "Viking" helmet has no such traces, nor do any of the Vendel/Valsgarde helmets immediately preceding that era. There are also numerous depictions of what are likely helmets (for Vikings, I mean), with no horns or wings.

In many places, helmets are mostly found either in graves or in temples. Some show battle damage, some have their wild attachments still attached. Sometimes only the horns are found!

Matthew
 

Similar History Discussions