Saturday, December 22, 2012


 Vienna Armour Museum, 2012.  The spangenhelms shown here are the finest I have ever seen.
Who wears spangenhelms?  Well, these ones were worn by migration period celts rather than the Romans. More information on Spangenhelms may be found here...this post is a short one designed to show the beautiful helms on display at the Vienna Armour Museum. 

Focusing closely on this magnificent gold plated steel helm, one is struck by the beauty of the symmetry, the incised decoration and the  careful use of precious iron.   This is the sixth century, the period in which the Romans are on the wane (in some places!), and young kingdoms are struggling to establish their personal image in a cultural vacuum. 
          The use of triangular shaped "spangens" is well known and to an armour maker, they look like they are better forged than chiseled out of flat steel.  The ones in the above example even look to a hasty eye to be cast, say, out of brass, but of course, they are not.  The rivets are all beautifully set round and proud, and of course the bottom row of rivets exist solely to attach the padding inside. 
            A more common type of helmet, one which is easier to make and in fact, creates less waste in production is the single wide strip which goes front to back, with a minimum of dishing.  A material like bog iron won't stand for much dishing or three dimentional deformation, so you find the below style to be more popular than the spangenhelm throughout the period from the 500 to 1100 AD.  The coppergate helm, for instance is built on the below pattern.  It looks much prettier, but the fundamental lines are the same.

These two sets are of the same helms, just from different angles.  They have been subject to a very interesting process which involves electrical rust removal.  I have done a little of that, the results always look interesting.  Folded steels will benefit most from this process, and you should pick pieces which are so rusty that there is simply no other way to clean the rust off.  

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