Do we have more archaeological evidence than the artists and writers in the Romatic period to support the idea that Vikings don't wear horned helmets in battles?


Would "common sense" be a sufficient reason to support such an idea (that warriors wearing horned helmets are more easily caught and killed by enemies)?


1 Answer 1


We don't have any evidence they did wear horned helmets.

Weapon - A Visual History Of Arms And Armor, describes viking equipment on pages 53-56; the most common viking helmets were the simple metal plated helmet, Gjermundbu-style helmets and Wenceslas helmets.

Horned helmets are not even mentioned.

The leftmost helmet is a Wenceslas helm, and rightmost is a Gjermundbu-style helmet:

enter image description here

Also see this website; it mentions viking equipment, and there's no trace of horned helmets.

So where did the image of a horned-helmeted Viking come from?

Apparently, the idea of vikings wearing horned helmets originated from one of the tapestries discovered on the Oseberg ship:

What we do have is one single piece of evidence, the ninth century Oseberg tapestry, suggesting a rare ceremonial use (the relevant figure on the tapestry may even be that of a god, rather than representative of real Vikings)

The Oseberg tapestry: enter image description here

  • 1
    So where did the image of a horned-helmeted Viking come from?
    – MSpeed
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 8:53
  • 2
    @billy: The Reality Check podcast episode #131 contains a discussion of the origins of the concept. Commented May 17, 2011 at 9:04
  • 4
    It wouldn't surprise me if some chiefs or other dignitaries had them as ceremonial garb, and maybe even took them into battle. Same as Roman officers (and many others) wearing crests of feathers or hair on their helmets. Makes them recognisable to the troops, which boosts morale. For the common soldier though, mass production would mean choosing a rather plain, easy to make, design with few parts and not needing rarish materials.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 6:34
  • 4
    As a sidenote. Horns themselves would be a bad idea in this form of combat as you want blows to glance off your head, not to lock onto the weapons hitting you and pull you off-balance or send greater force into your head, neck, or spine.
    – user179700
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 2:31
  • 1
    @mihai - Just as FUI - I flagged the question to me migrated to History SE (not offtopic here, but may belong there more). Based on your prior answers, I'd recommend you check out History SE independently of that, but if moderators agree and it gets moved, I'd rather you already have an account there so your rep points don't get lost.
    – user5341
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 17:43

You must log in to answer this question.