Historical knowledge

What were the helmets used for?

The Viksø helmets could not have been much use in war and fighting, due to their impractical size and shape. Instead we can imagine that they were used in connection with different religious rituals.

We can get an idea of how the helmets were used by looking at figures and depictions of helmet-clad men. Two small male figures of bronze were found in the 18th century at Grevensvænge, near Næstved. The men wear helmets with curved horns like those from Viksø. Only one of the figures is preserved today, but old drawings of the find show that the two men originally knelt down besides each other and each had a large ornamental axe in one hand.

The same motif, of kneeling men wearing helmets and carrying axes, is depicted on a razor from Vestrup in south Zealand. The men are sitting in a boat. Ships, helmets and ornamental axes were all used in connection with religious activities in the later Bronze Age. The combination of men with helmets and axes is also found on Swedish rock carvings. The warriors on the rock carvings from Sotetorp at Tanum in the Bohuslän area are helmet clad and carry axes. They also have swords at the hip and hold a round object in the other hand – perhaps a sun image? A third person is jumping acrobatically over the boat. Ritual acts or dances were apparently carried out in honour of the sun, which was the central element of Bronze Age religion.

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