On May 31st, 2015 we learned about

Vikings probably favored a nice broach over horned helmets

In pop culture, Vikings have been consistently depicted wearing armor, tunics, and most prominently, helmets with horns on the sides. However, those horned helmets were probably the result of misdated artifacts predating the Vikings that was then propagated by pop culture, starting in 1800s. To date, we have no archaeological evidence that Vikings went into battle with horned helmets. So what do we know about their dress?

The helmet issue likely stemmed from ceremonial helmets from before the eighth century when Vikings were notably active. Helmets with horns and antlers wouldn’t have been easy to wear into a battle (or on a small boat…) without getting caught everywhere, and the artifacts found had probably only been used for ceremonial purposes. But since they fit with early Greek and Roman descriptions of Northern Europeans, it seemed to fit well enough for various artists, including Wagner, to turn them into the icon of Viking warriors.

What look was “in” in 873 AD?

What were vikings likely wearing on a daily basis then? The best guesses are tunics, trousers and dresses. Vikings who could afford it likely added a bit of ninth century bling in the form of metal broaches or clasps, molded into shapes like sea-shells. Fabric scraps have been found that indicate there was an interest in patterning, and the colors red and blue seemed to be popular (possibly due to the availability of those dyes?) Of course, fashion concerns probably changed more slowly without mass manufacturing being available. Nobody could afford to throw out last year’s dress when you were likely to only own one or two in the first place.

Source: Did Vikings really wear horned helmets?, Ask History

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