John’s Historically Inaccurate Ramblings: No, Vikings did not Wear Horns on their Helmets

John's Historically Inaccurate Ramblings: No, Vikings did not Wear Horns on their Helmets

This is our last issue, dear readers. And what better to cap off than a classic? Vikings and the horned helmets. Of course, we always tend to fall into the pitfall of depicting the Scandinavian seafarers as barbaric pagans who worshiped old gods, wore very little armor, and had two prominent horns upon their helmets. If horns ever appeared on helmets, it’s likely because of contemporary Christian sources likening Danish raiders to the devil.

This was Medieval Europe, Christian iconography was non-negotiable. And naturally, survivors of raids would very likely have been angry towards the raiders, so it makes sense to demonize them. But in reality, horns on your helmet are a hindrance. Say you’re locked in melee combat with an enemy who had the audacity to wear a horned helmets. Simply grab the horns, rip the helmet away, and land a solid hit towards the cranial area – chalk up one dead fake Viking. Say they have strapped their helmet to their head. A fair challenge, but just grab the horn.

After that, knock him off his balance, and stab repeatedly. I should bring up “his.” While it is true that there were some female Vikings, if you’re somehow in a Viking raid, you’re statistically likely to be squaring up against a male. Later, Vikings gradually converted towards Christianity, seeing it easier to be traders than raiders. These converts in formerly non-Viking territories traded back with their homelands, bringing missionaries along to convert yet more Norsemen.

The Vikings have a legacy of being hardcore warriors eager to slaughter all in their path – but in reality, the Viking disappeared with a whimper. A quick-burning candle, the wax would affect Europe’s north for the next 3 centuries.