[SCA-AE] Real horn helmets
KaziBrionSCA at worldnet.att.net
Wed Oct 18 11:02:40 EDT 2006
Greetings to all!
After spending some time in a library, I found something quite interesting.
It turns out that the early Vikings did have horn helmets. They didn't so
much put cow horns on their helm, as in Hagar the Horrible, but they made
the plates of their helms from horn, and that was attached to a bronze
framework. Apparently, early helmets consisted of a metal framework, since
metal was expensive, and the panels were made of leather. It turns out that
the chieftains, who could afford something better, went with horn plates
instead of leather.
The horn was cut lenghtwise and heated (boiled or roasted), pressed flat,
and delaminated. The horn sheets were used not only for helms, but also in
place of window glass, and in lanterns (horn sheets are almost transparent
when oiled). The advantage was probably that horn is lighter than leather,
and depending on thickness it might be stronger.
There are no extant pieces of a "horn helmet", but the remnants of at least
2 helmets such as these were found in digs. They consisted of a metal
framework, and the former presence of horn plates was determined using
forensic methods. Horn doesn't survive when buried, it's made of protein.
Bone and antler does a lot better since it's already calcified; it survived
in alkaline soils but not in acidic ones.
If somebody would be interested in cooperating on a horn helmet project, I
would supply the horn plates. Essentially I am looking for a metal worker
with a sense of humor. Hey, it might even be list legal for fencing as a
fencing mask cover!
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