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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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helmet / armour

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Oc1904,0621.28

  • Description

    Helmet (armour) made of porcupine fish skin, coconut fibre (coir), vegetable fibre and human hair. The internal structure is of a coiled coir helmet to which the expanded body of a porcupine fish has been securely attached using vegetable fibre. Ear guards are cut from the fish's body and multiple two-ply twisted coir ties are used for fastening. Pieces of vegetable fibre and human hair line the front of the helmet. A large, white cowrie shell is attached to one of the coir cords and is secured using a section of European striped cloth.

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  • Ethnic name

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 33 centimetres
    • Circumference: 62 centimetres
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1904

  • Acquisition notes

    Register slip reads: Purchased 21 June 1904 [Admr. Davis] per Gerrard Collected by Adm. Davis during the cruise of HMS Royalist 1890-93. Davis published his collection of 700 items made as captain of the Royalist in a LIST OF ETHNOGRAPHICAL OBJECTS (BM library shelfmark: MUS/26b-9-6), which bears the handwritten note "BM had first pick - part purchased by Umlauff. Hamburg" Edward Gerrard sold the collection on his behalf.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Oc1904,0621.28

Spiked helmet made of parrot fish skin.

Spiked helmet made of parrot fish skin.

Image description

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Object reference number: EOC10654

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