The Sutton Hoo Helm

A Helm by Sir Bohemond le Sinistre, OL or Michael J. Fine
Sir Raymond, OL, OP or Raymond Moseley
Scrunchy Pope

Bohemond's Sutton Hoo Helm

    

“In 1939 a discovery was made which has been described as ‘the greatest single find in the archeological annals of England’ and later as ‘one of the most generous single benefactions ever made to the British Museum by a single donor in his or her lifetime.’  This momentous find was the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, on the banks of the River Deben near Woodbridge, in Suffolk.  A 90-feet-long ship was been buried in the sand, a rich funeral treasure laid out amidships and a barrow raised over it.  The burial was that of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon King,” Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, Sutton Hoo and other discoveries by Rupert Bruce-Mitford.


Replica Sutton Hoo Helm
(Trustees of the British Museum)
(Fig 1)
Bohemond's Sutton Hoo Helm
Remnants of Original on Template
(Trustees of the British Museum)
(Fig 2a)

Bohemond's Sutton Hoo Helm

 

    The most questioned and controversial pieces of the treasure was the Decorated Helmet.  Roman influences lingered after the fall of the empire.  Many used status symbols, or symbols of Roman power to express or display their own.  The Sutton Hoo dig is an example of that.  Many of the surviving articles are

    The Sutton Hoo helm was heavily based on Roman Calvary helms.  With many features similar to the Roman I style helmet.  Romans also plaqued their helmets with decorative motifs.  The Anglo Saxon artisans and craftsmen copied the Roman helm replaced Roman motifs with Anglo Saxon type II art giving the helm it's unique character.

  Of the original helm, much was unrecoverable.  We followed the scholars inferences and assumptions which were all inferred in design by comparisons to other known finds and documented by experts at the British Museum.

The Differences

Foils:

Our cast Pieces shown above.

     Our helm is made up of entirely cast pieces where the original was a combination of cast and embossed foil pieces.  On the original Sutton Hoo Helm, the decorations or plates were all foils based on four different designs.  Each were silver gilt embossed foils. The foils are held to the helm by a decorative pulled 3 ridge wire beading that is riveted to the helm, the beading overlaps the foils thus holding them in place. The four designs are: the dancing man, the mounted warrior,  and two different interlaced or knot decoration (each shown below).  We cast bronze masters of each foil.  We have successfully made foil pieces using our masters, however the foils are extremely fragile.  Foils on the helm would never hold up to any impact. (which is why the original Sutton Hoo Helm is believed to be a ceremonial helm)  Since our focus is on re-creative/recreational combat in the SCA which uses wooden swords to strike at each other, foils will not do.  We used 1/8 brass rivets to attach multiple master plaques cast in bronze on our helms so that the helm can stand up to being struck repeatedly.

Cast Pieces:  Nasal

    On the original helm the nasal, mustached mouth piece, and eyebrows are cast as are ours.  However. the original has inlaid with silver wire and the eyebrows were inlaid with red garnets.  We used enamel.  Each of the originals is guilt, ours is not. The metal bar across the eyes is comply with an SCA armor standard and was not part of the original helm.

Cast Pieces:  Crest

     The original crest is "solid D-sectioned iron tubing inlaid with silver wires, ours is cast.  One of the dragons head was in fact plaster with gold leaf overlaid.

    The richness of execution of style is displayed in the helmet by examining the dragon heads.  The dragon head above the nose pointing up. In this position the nose becomes the body, the eyebrows, tipped with boars heads, become the outstretched wings, the mouth and mustache become the fantail.  This dragon confronts head on the second dragon forming the crest.

Helm Construction:

    The original helm was iron I made this in stainless steel.  I like to travel and engage in combat activities in all kinds of climates.  I did not want the iron to corrode, mostly under the plaques, so stainless was my best choice.  This version of the helm is also bigger to accommodate the required padding to comply with SCA rules.

      The original helm may have used leather tabs or hinges to suspend the cheek pieces, aventail or neck guard, and the face plate.  Again as our focus is on re-creation / recreational combat, and to comply with SCA armor standards, this helm has a metal rim inset behind the scull cap with a 1 inch overlap to attach the face, cheeks, and aventail with 3/16 and 1/8 inch rivets.  For extra safety the face is also welded.  This makes the helm extremely ridged where the original would have been flexible.

      SCA combat regulations also were cause to lengthened or elongate the face plate to cover the chin and jaw. The cheek plates had to be brought in to make sure there were no gaps a sword could enter.  An extra row of plaques had to be added to the cheek plates with an extra dancing man.  The knot plaques that are the top row of the cheeks and the aventail were were turned 90 degrees to make the helm longer.

  In the fall of 2007 I entered the helm in al-Barran Arts and Sciences competition.  The competition was unbelievably stiff.  Master Thomas Frazier entered Migration Period combs that were very impressive, Miamuna entered period condoms with a provocative display and documentation that put mine to shame. 

Bohemond's A&S entryIn this picture you can see that I also made a second helm with no plaques so that I might not beat up the fancy helm as much.  A cast SCA fighting sword from Sir Raymond and scabbard, the Sutton Hoo horn (I have page just for that too), both the sword belt and pouch belt with pouch and great buckle, roman style leather officers vest with shoulder clasps, and terracotta colored tunic with trim.  All items found in the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

 

In the 2008 I hope to to a replica shield to also be used for SCA proposes

A helm made with no crest or plaques.

   

Pictures and evidence taken from: SHSB: R.L.S. Bruce-Mitford, The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, vol1 (1975), vol.II (1978), vol.III (1983) British Museum Press.

To Visit Bohemond's Website click Here

To Visit Raymond's Website click Here

To Purchase a Helm like This click Here

To get Helm Plaques click Here

To get Helm Crests & Nasals click Here

To See more of the Sutton Hoo Horn click Here