The infamous Horned Helmets of the Vikings

In recent years there has emerged a healthy debate about whether Vikings ever more horned helmets.

In Britain, for many people who are interested in the Anglo-Scandinavian Period, there is often
a purist reply that it is a nonsense to associate Vikings with horned helmets. “Horned
helmets have nothing to do with Vikings!” comes the cry.

Here at The Knutti Store we decided to take a step back and weigh up the evidence. We wanted to understand what lay at the heart of the discussion. Our question was, if the Vikings had nothing to do with horned helmets, then where did the association come from?

We quickly arrived at the answer of Richard Wagner’s operas (quite a surprising place to end up!). It turns out that Wagner instructed the lead costume designer Carl Emil Döpler to create the wonderful staging for Wagner’s opera saga The Ring of the Nibelung. Our designer speaks German so he undertook more research to see if he could find out anything more.

In the Wagner Archive was a letter from Döpler to Wagner that describes his journey to German museums that host Scandinavian artefacts, including horned helmets. ‘Aha!’ we thought, there is more to this story than we think.

Curiously, our research took us to artefacts held by the National Museums of Norway and Sweden, a leap back in time to the Stone Age, as well as a review of Norse religion in the period running up to and including the Viking Age. Viking mythology, too, reveals more