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Helmet from the ship burial at Sutton Hoo

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The Sutton Hoo Helmet is one of the most important Anglo-Saxon finds of all time. Only four complete Anglo-Saxon helmets are known to date, and this is the most elaborate. Made of iron, it is covered with tinned copper alloy panels showing a range of scenes. One shows warriors in horned headgear dancing with swords and spears. Another shows a mounted warrior trampling a fallen enemy, who in turn is stabbing the horse.
The face-mask has eye-sockets, eyebrows and a nose, with two small holes to allow the wearer to breathe freely. The copper alloy eyebrows are inlaid with silver wire and garnets, each ending in a gilded boar’s head - perhaps a symbol of strength and courage.
But the face-mask is also a fierce flying creature: the eyebrows are its outspread wings, the nose its body, and the moustache its tail. The creature’s head, extending between the eyebrows, meets the snout of a serpent that forms the low iron crest running over the helmet’s cap.

Details

  • Title: Helmet from the ship burial at Sutton Hoo
  • Location: British Museum, London, UK
  • Physical Dimensions: Helmet; copper-alloy, garnet, gold, iron, silver, tin; height: 31.8 cm, width: 21.5 cm, circumference: 74.6 cm
  • Publisher: British Museum
  • British Museum link: More about this on the British Museum website

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