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The Pioneer Helmet

The Anglo-Saxons and Religion

The ‘Anglo-Saxons’ refers to persons, often from Germanic descent, who lived in Britain between AD410 and AD1066. Strong warrior leadership was very important to these people, however warriors would fight their battles and then return home to tend their farms. Being a warrior as a sole profession was very rare, with the closest being ‘hauscarls’, who were the King’s personal bodyguard.

At the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon period, Paganism was the key religion.

People would worship a number of gods and goddesses, each responsible for their own area of expertise. Anglo-Saxon pagans also believed in going to the afterlife when they died, taking any items they were buried with with them.

Further towards the end of the period, Christianity rose in popularity. Temples were often converted into churches, festivals and feast days changed their meaning slightly to fit the new religion and traditions and ritualistic behaviour merged and adapted as time went on.

Due to the boar crest, we know that the warrior owning  the Pioneer Helmet would have held pagan beliefs. Yet if this helmet is compared with the Coppergate Helmet, found in York and believed to have been made 100-200 years after the Pioneer Helmet, a transition from pagan to christian beliefs is beautifully demonstrated by the two objects. The Coppergate helmet is crested with a cross and a prayer in latin is etched inside the cross, a clear indication of the wearer's Christian religion.