If you want to use this site please update your browser!
09.06.2021

Broe helmet

The Broe helmet is a decorated iron helmet from around the Vendel Period. Discovered around 1904 in a cremation grave in Broe, a farm on the Swedish island Gotland, it was located alongside other items including fragments of shields, weapons, bridles, and game pieces. Due to its extremely fragmented condition, only an incomplete reconstruction of the helmet is possible, but it appears to have been an example of the "crested helmets" that flourished in England and Scandinavia from the sixth through eleventh centuries.

A full speculative reconstruction was attempted in 1969, suggesting a cap made in segments, with brow and nose-to-nape bands; pieces of metal attached to the brow band likely provided neck, cheek, and face protection. The nose-to-nape band was decorated with ornamental bronze sheeting, and an eyebrow piece, which survives in full and also featured animal-head terminals, was inlaid with strips of a material such as silver. This appearance is generally consistent with the contemporaneous Vendel XIV helmet, which the Broe example may have looked somewhat similar to.

The helmet is hard to date by itself, but the style and type of the grave goods suggests a date in the second half of the 7th century AD. This is consistent with the Vendel XIV grave, which is variously dated between 520 and 625 AD, and shares similarities with the Broe grave even beyond the helmets; in particular, decorated iron fragments from the graves share an identical design.

The Broe helmet survives in a fragmentary state, with a speculative artistic reconstruction. When whole, it included an iron cap, likely constructed in sections, with both a brow band and a nose-to-nape band.The latter band, to which may belong a fragment with traces of ornamental bronze sheeting, terminated above the eyebrows with an animal head, its eyes formed with inlaid garnets. A fragment of the nose-to-nape band retains an animal-head impression that does not match the surviving head, suggesting that a second animal head terminal adorned the rear of the helmet. Strips of iron hanging from the brow band provided neck and cheek protection. The one surviving cheek piece is fragmentary, but appears to have extended deeply. Further strips extended from the nose-to-nape band to cover the nose, and encircled the eyes to protect the face.Over the eyes ran an ornamental eyebrow piece, made of iron inlaid with thin strips of another material—possibly silver—and terminating in an animal head on either side.

The helmet may once have appeared similar, in some respects, to the Vendel XIV helmet.Both had deep hinged plates protecting the cheeks and neck, a flat crest terminating in animal heads, and ornamented eyebrows.The Broe example is too fragmentary, however, for its exact design to be determined.

UP