Being proud of our Norwegian heritage and an above-average amateur historian, our dad made sure we knew from an early age that real Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets.
But why do so many people think so? An article in Vox gets to the root cause. Dang costume designers.
Growing up, we didn’t have a wealth of Viking drama, so it was inevitable that the family would seek out what they could. That inevitably led to that 1958 saga, The Vikings, directed by Richard Fleischer… before 1985’s Red Sonja was a gleam in his eye.
Let’s face it, it’s a Hollywood epic from a certain era when the historical accuracy was inconsistent. On the one hand, get a load of them longships! On the other hand, Tony Curtis.
Indeed, the care and attention paid to the longships made for this film was so meticulous, that the longships went on to star in another picture. Okay, the company was probably just trying to amortize their costs, but they’re still wondrous.
Both films served to be launching points for many conversations with my dad about historical Vikings, who did much more than simply raid ill-prepared monasteries. We talked of the Danelaw, the Normans, and, Leif Erikson: far more popular in our house than that Columbus guy.
Now, of course, we can seriously scratch that Viking itch with the Vikings TV series. It’s incredibly entertaining, as Michael Hirst’s work tends to be, despite some niggling historical inaccuracies. I am sad my dad is no longer with us to see the show, because although he would surely be the one noting those inaccuracies, there’d be a lot in the show for him to enjoy.
For one thing, these Vikings don’t have time for horned helmets.