benty grange


Anglo-Saxon Helmets

The Bayeux Tapestry shows the combatants of 1066 in very similar headgear. The difficulty for the historian is that very few helmets have survived from the period.

Anglo-Saxon helmets number only three: the Benty Grange helmet (first pair of images), the Sutton Hoo helmet (second pair) and the Coppergate helmet (third pair). All are constructed from shaped iron components.

The most simple form is that on which the Norman helmet was also based, the spangenhelm where a brow-band formed the foundation of a pointed dome consisting of four bands rising to an apex with iron plate in-filling. The Benty Grange helmet has additional bands fixed to the brow-band. The Normans preserved this domed shape in their more economical helmet of the 10th century in which four curved and pointed plates were riveted together, the front plate having a down-ward-pointing tongue to protect the nose, a “nasal”, where the band-based helmets used an elongation of a vertical band. They must have been lined in some way to cushion blows and to make a good fit and they were secured with a tie under the chin.

images: On the left are helmets in their current state in museums, and next to those are their modern reconstructions.