13 Helmet from Valsgärde Cemetery
Helmet from the Valsgärde Cemetery

14 Helmet reconstruct. Valsgärde
Reconstruction of a helmet from the Valsgärde burials (RoyalOakArmoury.com).
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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MAGNIFICENT VENDEL and VALSGäRDE HELMETS (part I)

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According to the literary sources and the chronicles (Jordanes, Beowulf epic and others) in that period the largest tribes of eastern and southern Scandinavia (i.e. modern Sweden and Denmark) were the Svears (Suiri, Suehans, the Swedes), the Gotar (Geats, Gott) and their probable branches – the Gauthigoth, Ostrogothae, Vagoth, Gutar, Theustes – the Jutes (maybe a tribal offshoot of the Gotar/Geats), the Heruli (the major part of the tribe played an important role in the Age of Migrations in the continent), the Screrefennae (the Finns, the sole non-Germanic people in the region), the Bergio, the Fervir, the Wulfingas, the Hallin, the Danes, the North Frisians, and in modern western Schleswig-Holstein the metropolitan Saxons (the core tribe of the Saxon confederacy). Western Scandinavia (modern Norway) was inhabited by even smaller tribes and clans, such as the Ragnaricii, Raumaricii, Otingis, Rugii (possibly the core tribe of the continental Rugii who settled in Pannonia and Italy), Adogit, Arothi and others.
The Vendel graves are rich, and very similar to the ones excavated in Britain, namely at Sutton Hoo in the principality of East Anglia. After all, taking into account literary, linguistic and other evidence, it is possible that the dynasty of East Anglia was of Geat/Gotar origins (possibly a branch of the Wulfings). In my point of view, there is also a strong connection of the names of the Angles (forebears of the national name of the English) and the Ynglings (Ynglingas, Scylfings). After all, they seem to have been both bearers of the Vendel cultural elements. Taking into account that the Angles were a small tribe (less numerous than the Saxons and the Jutes: possibly a few clans) I would hypothesize that they were a tribal offshoot or close relatives of the Ynglings. It is possible that the Angles originating from modern Sweden were at first established in southern Jutland and modern Schleswig-Holstein and then invaded Britain becoming royal dynasties in East Anglia, Bernicia, Deira, Mercia and possibly elsewhere.


We must also take into account that both the Angles and the Ynglings were royal clans/dynasties in their territories (eastern Britain and central Sweden respectively). The common Germanic people of the aforementioned Anglian principalities or kingdoms in Britain rather belonged to other tribes of the invaders than to the Angles (mainly Saxons). The aformentioned Wulfingas (Wuffings?) were also royal dynasties in Gotaland and possibly in East Anglia.

In any case, the Anglo-Saxon invaders in Britain were largely or possibly  mostly bearers of the Vendel cultural elements. The buried in the Vendel culture cemeteries of Uppland were rather powerful warlords and warriors. Maybe some of them were members of the Yngling royal family but this theory remains questionable.

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Map of the historical districts of Scandinavia. The following probable tribal districts are noted among others: Uppland (political center of the Svears) including Vendel site, Ostergotland (East Gotar tribe), Vastergotland (land of the Gautigoth), Smaland (small territories of other Gott/Gotar tribes, including the Theustes and a part of the Heruls), Gotland Isle (land of the Vagoth or Gutar), Oland isle (land of the Vagoth?), Hordaland (land of the Arothi?), Ringerike (land of the Ragnaricii), Rogaland (land of the Rugii), Viken (main land of the Raumarike/Raumaricii, originally coming from nearby Romerike), Halland (land of the Hallin), North Skane (land of the Bergio and the Fervir?), South Skane and East Sjaelland (core territories of the Danes), West Sjaelland (inhabited by Heruls?), Angel (cradle of the Angles), Jylland (land of the Jutes), Rugen island (probably colonised by the Rugii), Nordfrisien (North Frisians).

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Detail of the brow area of a Vendel helmet, burial XIV.
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Reconstruction of the aforementioned helmet from the Valsgärde Cemetery.

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Scheme of typical neck-guards of some Vendel and Valsgärde helmets.

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A Vendel type helmet.
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A 6th century Spangenhelm; a helmet of rather Sarmatian origins. The Vendel and Valsgärde helmets had design influences from the Spangenhelm types. Some researchers believe that they are originated from them. I think that their origins belong to multiple influences (Landesmuseum Mainz)

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Helmet from the Valsgärde Cemetery, with mail visor.

21Reconstruction of a Nordic warrior bearing a Valsgärde-Vendel helmet, by the historical association Wulfheodenas.

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Another Vendel helmet.

shield from Vendel
A reconstructed shield from the Vendel burials.

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Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUE READING IN THE LAST PART

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