BEOWULF - Boars Vs. Dragons?
helmet illustration courtesy of ''

According to, a boar can be defined simply as a "male wild pig." This definition, however, does not do the animal complete justice. A boar is further described as an uncontrollable and deadly animal with large lethal tusks. The boar, along with boar-images and similiar references, was considered a sacred animal within the Anglo-Saxon culture. The boar was sacred to Freyr, who was the favorite god of the Germanic tribes about the North Sea and Baltic ( During periods of worship, the carcass of the boar, with an orange strategically placed within its mouth, would be paraded around on a platter. The pagans, worshipping objects of nature, would use the fruit of an orange to represent the sun. This custom of placing objects in the mouth of a sacred animal, with connections to sun worship, is recorded as far back as medieval times in England (

Animals were considered crucial elements within Anglo-Saxon culture. Warriors believed that one would "take on the spirit" of the respective animal they were wearing on their armor. The image of the boar was fixed upon helmets as it was believed that the power and the strength of the boar would protect the wearer in times of war ( Because the boar was a wild, uncontrollable animal that could kill, warriors found the animal of choice to be highly appropriate. An example of this is seen within the epic poem "Beowulf." It reads: "Boar-images shone over cheek-guards, gold adorned, gleaming and fire-hardened - the war-minded boar held guard over fierce men" (Howe, 8). Modern illustrations, however, often show the boar represented on the top of the helmet, peering out into the battlefield.

Works Cited

Howe, Nicholas, ed. Beowulf: A Prose Translation. Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.

On-line. Internet. 27 Jan. 2003. Available WWW:

On-line. Internet. 27 Jan. 2003. Available WWW:

On-line. Internet. 27 Jan. 2003. Available WWW:

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The boar on top of the helmet

Beowulf: The War of The Pacifist