Britain’s first ever Viking helmet discovered

Started by gash, August 25, 2020, 10:41:21 am

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In the 1950s, workmen digging trenches for new sewerage pipes in Chapel Yard, Yarm, made an unusual discovery - a battered helmet. Known locally as the 'Viking helmet', it has been on loan to Preston Park Museum from Yarm Town Council for a number of decades. It had never previously been researched and the age of the helmet had caused much debate until now.

In recent years a project led by Dr Chris Caple, Emeritus Reader at Durham University, has been underway to discover new information about the helmet and the findings have just been reported in the journal Medieval Archaeology 64/1.

The research has focussed on determining if the helmet is genuine and this involved analysing its materials, how it was made, its shape and functional features. If it was genuine how had it survived in the damp earth of the tidal riverbank of the River Tees?

Yarm may not be where you would expect to find a Viking helmet. The only previous find of this date from Yarm was a piece of 9th century cross shaft, which is now in Durham Cathedral. There are however many pieces of Viking age sculpture that belong to St. Martin's Church, Kirklevington, most of which are on loan to Preston Park Museum. This could indicate that Yarm was a Viking market place with the merchants and leaders living in the Kirklevington area, 1.5 miles away. The helmet dates to before the establishment of the town and was found on the east side of the loop in the river, an area that could have been a quayside.

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