Archaeology breakthrough: Viking helmet unearthed in discovery rewrites British history

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Archaeology breakthrough: Viking helmet unearthed in discovery rewrites British history

Researchers were astounded after new research confirmed that a discovery found 60 years ago was the first of its kind ever unearthed in Britain. Fo

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Researchers were astounded after new research confirmed that a discovery found 60 years ago was the first of its kind ever unearthed in Britain. Found in Yarm in Chapel Yard, Stockton-on-Tees by workmen digging trenches for new sewerage pipes, the corroded, damaged artefact is a rare, 10th century Anglo-Scandinavian helmet. Led by Dr Chris Caple, the project also found it is only the second near-complete Viking helmet found in the world.

It has been on display at Preston Park Museum since 2012.

The helmet’s age has long been a point of fierce debate and contention.

Using evidence from recent archaeological discoveries, researchers were able to finally date the artefact.

Analysis of the metal and corrosion was also used to reveal its past.

Dr Caple, Emeritus Reader at Durham University, said: “It was a challenging project, as the thin iron sheet is now very susceptible to corrosion (it has to be kept in very dry conditions), so it was not simply a question of only showing the date at which it was created, but working out how it had survived until it was unearthed in the 1950s.

“Our analysis showed that it was initially preserved in waterlogged conditions, only later becoming damaged and starting to corrode. Fortunately it was discovered before it corroded away completely.

“Although there are half a dozen early medieval helmets from Britain, the Sutton Hoo and Coppergate helmets being the most famous, this is the first Anglo-Scandinavian (Viking) helmet from Britain.

“The only other near-complete Viking helmet is from Gjermundbu in Norway.”

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An eventual is a flexible curtain of mail attached to the skull of a helmet that extends to cover the throat, neck and shoulders.

It is thought that because of the rugged workmanship put into the helmet, it would have been intended for use rather than display.

This fits with its suggested date of being Anglo-Scandinavian.

The way in which the helmet protects the entirety of the head and face is indicative of the way in which battle had changed by the era.

As seen in the famous Bayeux Tapestry, by the 11th century armies were larger and used tactics such as shield walls with archers raining arrows down.

This differs from the individual combat of an earlier period where the use of armour would not have been necessary.

The circumference of the helmet is similar to that of other early medieval helmets and would have been worn over a padded cap around 16mm thick.

The metal is 1-2mm thick and would absorb the impact from a weapon.

No evidence exists to suggest the helmet was decorated to show the signs of having a particularly important owner.

Initially buried in waterlogged conditions, researchers have questioned whether it was deliberately hidden and then not retrieved because, perhaps, something happened to the owner.



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