The first crown of the Kings of Gondor had been a simple helmet, said to have been the helm worn by Isildur during the Battle of Dagorlad, and following the convention of the Gondorians that helmet was mounted with a pair of wings.1 The helmet was worn as a crown by fourteen Kings after Isildur, until Atanatar Alcarin caused a new crown to be made.
Following the same winged design, Atanatar's crown was made of silver, tall and bejewelled. That winged crown was borne by Atanatar and all his successors until Eärnur. When Eärnur was lost, the crown was placed in the Houses of the Dead and remained there for more than a thousand years during the rule of the Stewards. When Aragorn took up the Kingship of the South-kingdom after the War of the Ring, the Winged Crown was reclaimed from the Tombs and used in his coronation.
The origin of the winged helms of the Gondorians isn't entirely clear, but they perhaps derived from the helm of Tuor. At Vinyamar, Tuor found a helmet and arms made by Turgon many years earlier at the command of the Vala Ulmo. In the published Silmarillion, the helm is not described in detail, but in the earliest version of Tuor's story (The Fall of Gondolin in volume 2 of The History of Middle-earth) it bore the device of a swan's wing on either side. Tuor was a remote ancestor of the Kings of Gondor, and it is perhaps from his swan-wing emblem that the custom of the winged helm derived.
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