Object dates from the 10th century and was found in the 1950s in the city of Yarm, but its origin has remained a mystery – until now
In the 1950s, during the construction of the wastewater treatment system in the city of Yarm, in northeastern England, a group of workers found a really old-looking iron helmet.
The artifact was studied and spent decades at the Preston Park Museum, also in England, but details about the object had never been revealed – until now.
In a new study conducted at Durham University, researchers found that the item is a Viking helmet made in the 10th century.
In an article published in the August issue of Medieval Archeology, the team said this is the first Viking helmet found in England.
It is a very rare finding: the only nearly-complete similar item in the archaeological record was found in 1943, on the Gjermundbu farm in Norway.
According to the study’s authors, between the 6th and 8th centuries, helmets were used more to symbolize authority and wealth than for protection – their owners were even buried with the artifact.
However, between the 9th and 11th centuries, these items began to be used in battles, making them almost absent in the archaeological record for the next centuries.
They were rarely buried, because, in most cases, they passed from one warrior to the next until they were destroyed in battle.
According to the new study, by evaluating the composition and shape of the helmet it was possible to conclude that the item originated in the 10th century and was probably used by someone before it was buried.
When analyzing the damage to the object, the researchers found that most of it is due to erosion, but also because of a shovel that hit it at some point in history.