Monday, October 26, 2015

HELMS: Because blunt head trauma is inconvenient.

Today we will combine morning writing practice, heavy weapons research, and persona research. We're having a threesome.

Yeah. I went there. Get over it.

I need to learn about all the pieces of armor required for practice. I need to know what those pieces are and what they need to be composed of for practice and also I want to know what the historical look and use. Thirdly, I want to know if it is relevant to my persona. For a properly researched persona, you keep to the materials and styles found for your people and region. One has slightly more leeway with a Norse persona, given their propensity for travel, trade, and good ole 'taking stuff off that dead guy who doesn't need it anymore now that they've killed him'.  But there is still a line of authenticity I don't care to cross. I would still have to stay within my time period and within the geographical boundaries of Viking raids and settlements for that time period.

Semi Custom Armor Norse Ocular
from Aesir Metalworks
I don't know if this meets all the standards.
Enough of that. Let's talk about HELMS! What is a helm? Armor for the head. Why don't they call it a helmet? Well, I suppose some people do. But in order to distinguish from the modern day usage of helmet, as when referring to motorcycle, bicycle, or sport related safety equipment, I'm going to stick with helm.

We'll begin with the SCA requirements for a helm (see page 11 on that link). Your brain is important. It helps you read blogs, drive cars to fight practice, and do some type of work for which you get money with which you can buy things made of leather and steel. The SCA would like to keep all it's members happy and healthy because sharing a love of historical minutiae and the desire to bash your friends with large sticks is just fun, dammit. Therefore, the SCA requires people wishing to participate in heavy weapons fighting to wear a helm meeting minimum safety standards, to keep everyone's higher brain functions functioning, so everyone can keep having fun. You will wear brain protection and fucking like it.

This handsome specimen is a
Basic Viking with Ocular Helm from
West Coast Armoury.
I don't know if this meets all the standards either.
As there is loaner gear available, I'm not purchasing a helm anytime soon because they are expensive and I want to make sure what I'm buying is going to meet standards. Don't buy stuff just because it's pretty, people. This adage applies to just about anything. Also, just because some individual on eBay says their stuff is legal don't make it so. In both the safety meaning and in the "totally not stolen out of someone's gear box at the last event" meaning. So I will save my pennies and consult with more learned people before I shell out for that helm.

Now. What did the Vikings of the 8th and 9th century wear into battle to protect their head? Not much, according to the researchers at Regular fellows probably didn't wear anything more than their regular hats to keep them warm. Only the extremely wealthy could afford to own armor looking anything like the helms on this page. And commonly they didn't look like these. They were more of a metal bowl, to my eyes: "...during the Viking era, helmets typically were made from several pieces of iron riveted together (right), called a spangenhelm style of helm. It's easier to make a helmet this way, requiring less labor, which may be why it was used." 


"Because iron was difficult to make during the Viking era, it was expensive. As a result, helmets were expensive and thus not common. Anyone who could afford one would certainly want one, but not too many people could afford one. Helmets were prized and carefully preserved, repaired as needed, and passed from generation to generation. Some may well have been used for centuries before the iron became too thin and weak to provide any real protection." - article, Viking Arms and Armor: Viking Helmets

"How rich a Viking was determined his defensive weapons. A rich man might also own chainmail and an iron helmet. Chainmail was difficult to make and no doubt quite expensive. Helmets were basically an iron bowl that protected the head, and many had a nose piece to protect the face. Poorer Vikings without access to chainmail wore thick, padded leather garments which gave some protection from edged weapons." - article, Viking Weapons and Armor; Defensive Weapons.

What's the last word for today on helms for persona? Overlooking the fact that my persona is a woman and Viking women just didn't do that...if you were rich you could have a helmet. It wasn't inaccurate to the period. If you were very rich, it might even resemble what I would need to wear on the field. Cool. I love it when a plan comes together.


  1. The Aesir is not only legal for SCA...but a damn fine choice of vendor.