Monday, 3 May 2021

fah ond fyrgeard ferhearde heold

Mentioned no fewer than five times in the contemporary Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf (previously) and with subsequent and comparable artefacts excavated in later years from the Sutton Hoo and other sites, the Benty Grange helmet found on this day in 1848 in an ancient mound burial site in a farm in Derbyshire was the first evidence of the well-attested seventh century boar-crested headgrear. The nose-to-nape band portrays a charging wild swine at the crown with an incipient cross inlay—this example of spangenhelm—that is, a segmented helmet of bone that’s since decayed away displays both Christian and pagan iconography and possibly captures a moment on the cusp when conversions were carried out by Irish missionaries. Apparently any faith tradition would do on the battlefield or against the scorn of Grendel’s mother.