WHY WE USE A HORNED HELMET AS OUR SYMBOL
Wondering why we use a horned helmet as our symbol, are you? Read on...
HISTORICAL USE OF HORNED HELMETS BY VIKINGS
Truth of the matter is, every day Víkingar most likely never used horned helmets in combat. No horned helmet was dug up to date (although one would have to wonder whether a cow horn would have survived a millennium), and fighting battles with horns attached to a helmet would have been, well, impractical. Why provide your enemy with the equivalent of two handles on top of your helmet? So they can conveniently grab and hold your head, while they knee you in the face, slit your throat, or worse? Seriously...
There are strong suggestions, however, that horned helmets were most likely used by Víkingar for ceremonial purposes and rituals. A tapestry found in the Oseberg ship burial, and dated around the 9th century (at the height of the Viking age), shows a man wearing a horned helmet (sorry, no photo as we only use our own materials, and we never took a photo of that tapestry. You can look it up online though). More significant is the Vendal period Öland bronze plate (late 6th to early 9th century) shown above, which depicts a Úlfhéðinn wearing a wolf pelt, together with the god Óðinn, who happens to be wearing a... horned helmet! More recently, a 5cm figurine of Óðinn wearing horns again was also found in a field near Mesinge in Hindsholm, on the island of Fyn in Denmark (soon to be on permanent display at Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen).
HORNED HELMET AND THE CHURCH
Christians have long associated horns with the devil. It is therefore no surprise that the Church started depicting Víkingar with horned helmets, in order to make us look more horrible, barbaric, and ultimately, more evil. After all, the Church had to justify the persecution and oppression of our people during forced Christianization...
HORNED HELMETS DURING THE ROMANTIC ERA
The association of Víkingar with horned helmets (or winged helmets for that matter, which is less badass) went in overdrive during the romantic era, at the turn of the 18th century. Artists started rejecting the constraints of classicism, and went wild with their expressions, now incorporating ancient Germanic and Celtic mythology concepts. Eventually, all Vikings started being depicted with a helmet with horns.
HORNED HELMETS IN POPULAR CULTURE
Not surprisingly, to this day, popular culture still associates Víkingar with horned helmets. There is no surest way to make people think "Viking" than to show a helmet with horns. As a matter of fact, how else would a Viking stand out from any other dude from that era? Sure, Vikings were clean, so they most likely smelled better than other Europeans, but that's difficult to translate on a visual, isn't it? There's the beard as well, but it wasn't exclusively a Víkingr thing, and many people in the rest of Europe wore beards as well during that period!
THE HORNED HELMET: A VIKING SYMBOL
Víkingar didn't wear horned helmets in battle. That's a given. However, Víkingar may have worn horns in rituals and ceremonies. Norse gods, such as Óðinn, were even depicted with a horned helmet at the height of the Viking age. In addition, the Church associated Víkingar with horns specifically to make us look more evil... Not to mention that popular culture has been depicting Víkingar with horned helmets for now over two centuries. It is therefore undeniable that the horned helmet has become a Víkingr symbol, even though horned helmets were most likely never worn in battle by your average Víkingr.
OUR SYMBOL: THE HORNED HELMET
We wanted a logo that was symbolic, and that easily and quickly gave a clear idea of what we were all all about. We also wanted something that looked like a trophy (one must earn the right to use the NØRSKK badge). An emblem that could be used as a weapon when worn as a pendant. A symbol of strength. We furher wanted a symbol that would also express a clear opposition to the forced Christianization of our people... Last but not least, we also wanted to depart from the rigid "Ásatrú" and "Odinist" standards established by foreigners only a couple of decades ago, and which do not represent true Norse values and traditions. Then we thought, what could possibly better represent us so clearly, and encompass all we wanted in our symbol, than, well, a helmet with (controversial) horns!
So, yeah, our logo is a horned helmet, and we use it indiscriminately... Including on the Norse gods, because of its symbolism, its bad ass aspect, and the fact that Óðinn was, in fact, frequently depicted with horns during the Viking age!
At the same time, though, we try to remain historically correct. Our depiction of actual Víkingar never include horns... Our helmet of choice seen in many of our photos is Frankish (considered the best by Víkingar at the time), and certainly doesn't involve any horns. Same goes with our depiction of Víkingr/Norse warriors such as Úlfhéðnar... No horns...
At the end of the day, our logo is to be seen exactly as what it is. A symbol. So, get a hold of yourself... Our use of a horned helmet, isn't, after all, that much of a crime!