Pieces chosen for quick study

During a trip to Virginia for a longbow shoot in May 2023 we stopped by Jamestown for a visit with some of their interpreters and armorers. I took along a small set of pieces that illustrated details of armor that would have been used at the time of the Jamestown settlement. The items were chosen for specific details. The burgonet skull is formed of 2 pieces with an overlapped seam at the crest. This is similar to one found at the settlement and how the ones they use for the visitors are made. The cabasset is a very low end munition piece and includes cheek plates like the ones found at the settlement. The breastplates illustrate older and more up to date munition pieces and the backplate helped to illustrate the form that should be in a backplate to allow it to work correctly.

Italian closed burgonet

Italian closed burgonet circa 1620

Skull formed of 2 pieces, the right side overlapping the left. Seam forms a crease, not a raised comb. 2 halves are riveted together. Decorative filing at the crease to simulate roping and a pair of parallel lines on each side of the roping. Matching parallel lines on the edges of the peak, bevor and neck lames. Small movable peak of round form. Bevor extending up to cover the cheeks and form a 'Y' shaped hole. Peak and bevor pivoted on the same rivets. Single neck lames at the front and back with rolled lower edges. Rolls decorated with simple filed roping. Bevor secured by later strap and buckle. Overall very light weight like many of the munition morions and open burgonets. Cleaned on the outside, showing remains of modern silver paint on the inside of the neck lames.

Measurements: Weight: 3 pounds 2.6 ounces (1435g). [inv. num. A-59]


Cabasset circa 1600

German. One piece skull of rounded almond shape with narrow flat integral brim coming to an obtuse point at the front and back. The edge of the brim formed with a simple inward turn. Retains two cheek plates and interior leather band. One cheek plate detatched at one side. Parts of the band torn though at the rivets. Cheek plates are small and nearly flat. Black, rough from the hammer surface. [inv. num. A-288]

German/Austrian (possibly Gratz) Breastplate

German/Austrian (possibly Gratz) Breastplate circa 1590

Including 2 buckles at shoulders. Rolled edges at arm holes and neck, full flare at waist - used without any fauld lames. Simple peascod shape. This breastplate is relatively light and most likely sword proof and not shot proof. This item is very similar to large numbers of breastplates in the Arsenal in Graz. Its original blackened finish has been removed by cleaning with acid. Originally it would have been used with a pair of tassets suspended directly from the wide flare at the waist of the breastplate - taking the place of the fauld. The holes for the tasset straps are evident. Each tasset would have been suspended by 3 straps and buckles - the ones nearest the edge and center of the breastplate were attached by 2 rivets, the central one with a single rivet. Weight 3.5 lbs.

rough inner and outer surfaces, but roughly .050-.060 inch thick overall. [inv. num. A-15]


Breastplate circa 1610

Deep peascod form. Plain inward turned rolls at the neck, arms and at the base of the flare. Point relatively flat but drawn out to a narrow point. Holes for rivets along the edge of the flare. Rough from the hammer finish. Fitted with two pegs for shoulder straps and a paur of winged turning pins. Suggesting that it has been refitted for use in more than one configuration.

Measurements: 13 3/4 in. wide below the arm holes, 11 3/8 in. wide at the waist, overall 18 1/4 in. tall. 6 1/2 in. tall from waist to under the arm. Fauld flare 1 3/4 in. long. Thickness .17 in. at the neck, generally .12-.15 in. at the center and tapering to .-08-.09 in. at the sides. The central 11 inches (5.5 on each side) is .1 or greater, varying between .1 and .125 along at line 5 inches from the sides. The thick area near the neck is relatively small, small parts of it are .185. Neck roll .316 tall at the center tapering .2 at the end. [inv. num. A-302]


Backplate early 17th c.

Of typical form. Lightly rounded over the shoulder blades, the bottom edge flared at the waist. Neck, arms and bottom edge with internally rolled and roped border. Center accented with a line. Two buckles at the shoulders to secure the breastplate and (atypically) two buckles at the waist. The waist flare has a line of rivets securing what appear to be a leather strip cut to form a set of internal decorative tabs. Surface rough from the hammer. Lightly cleaned. All 4 buckles appear to be old, and in matched pairs but I expect that they are all later associations with this backplate. [inv. num. A-341]