De Vendelhelm uit Hallum: wat doet deze helm in Friesland?


  • Johan Nicolay



The Vendel helmet from Hallum: What is this helmet doing in Friesland? The helmet with copper-alloy animal heads found at Hallum (province of Friesland), which was presented in two previous volumes of Paleo-aktueel, is here interpreted in its historical context. An attempt is made to explain what a Scandinavian-type Vendel helmet is doing at a terp site in present-day Friesland. Three options are discussed: (1) local manufacture in Friesland; (2) war booty from a military expedition in the North Sea area; and (3) a gift from a Scandinavian king to a Frisian warrior who had undertaken an adventurous journey to central Denmark or Sweden. Option 1 is seen as unlikely, because Scandinavian-style helmets from England are executed in a style that is local to the region, as is Scandinavian-style jewellery from Friesland. Option 2 is seen as more probable, although no other Vendel helmet is recorded for the North Sea area, where military expeditions from Friesland are expected to have taken place. Option 3 is seen as the most probable: a Frisian warrior – like Beowulf – undertook an adventurous journey to central Denmark or Sweden, was rewarded with a Vendel helmet, and brought this helmet back to his homeland. Although the further history of the helmet cannot be reconstructed, an additional fastening hole in the lower part of each of the animal heads is proof that these mounts were removed at some point, probably to be attached to a new helmet. In this way, the mounts referred to the deeds of an adventurous Frisian warrior predecessor, whose fame now supported a young warrior in his quest to prove himself.