Western Europe, Great Britain, England, Anglo-Saxon, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. A fabulous Anglo-Saxon iron helmet of a domed form comprised of two broad panels with dozens of rivets securing iron plating underneath. The brow band displays additional rivets as well as a lower periphery lined with dozens of perforations meant to accommodate both chainmail mesh as well as a pair of ovoid ear flaps. The front of the helmet bears a T-shaped nose guard with a rounded top section secured to the brow band with three rivets. Anglo Saxon helmets, like Danish and Viking examples, had a conical shape in order to protect the wearer's head by deflecting direct blows. The most expensive helmets, used by kings and nobles, were made entirely of steel and iron while less expensive examples had an iron 'skeleton' to which panels of animal horn, hard leather, or even wood were affixed. Size: 8" W x 9.875" H (20.3 cm x 25.1 cm); 18" H (45.7 cm) on included custom stand.
The Saxons were fierce, bearded warriors who fought with a ruthless and unreserved attack style that intimidated many, even the Romans. Anglo-Saxon society revolved around warfare. Freemen were automatically warriors and were expected to fight from early adolescence. Teenage boys were often taken into a chieftain's household to be trained as warriors. Anglo-Saxon warriors were equipped with javelins and throwing axes as well as swords and shields. In particular a "scramasax" - a single-bladed dagger - was used for close-quarter fighting. Gesiths (serving-men and companions to the king) fought for their hlaford (lord/ breadgiver). Freemen were rewarded for their military service with (at first generally temporary) grants of land. The need to obtain more land for distribution encouraged policies of conquest, and the kings of Wessex were particularly successful because they were able to expand into Cornish territory. One of the most legendary was Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex from 871 to 899, who defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest and by the time of his demise had become the dominant ruler of England. For these reasons, he was the only English monarch accorded the epithet "the Great". The epithet was retained by succeeding generations of Parliamentarians and empire-builders who saw Alfred's patriotism, success against barbarism, promotion of education and establishment of the rule of law as supporting their own ideals.
Provenance: ex-estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, acquired before 2000
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Brown stabilization material along several interior surfaces. Small losses to areas of some brow band perforations as well as a couple of petite perforations to top of dome, with light encrustations and pitting, and very slight bending to areas of lower periphery and nose guard, otherwise excellent. Fantastic iron patina throughout.