Thursday, May 20, 2010

10 G helms

This is a fairly standard 10 g helm. They are "entry level" helms, It is made from a ten gauge spun top, riveted to a fourteen gauge body. They are expected to take a lot of impact and should last for years. There is plenty of room for padding, and they are inexpensive as I can make them and still not compromise on the quality.
Lots of breathing holes allow the client to get air, and odd holes in the brow above the eye slots provide a distant early warning of overhead shots. The double holes on the sides are for a chin strap. My camera died just as I took this picture, and so I don't have any from the front.

The second style is a bit of a mash up, and it is below.

This one is a little prettier. The problem with the spun bowls is that though they are cheap, they are "round". Heads, in general, are not round but oval. Narrow wedges have been cut front and back so that when we push the sides in, it will narrow it a little. Not a lot, but enough to allow the helm to look really good. Should still provide lots of padding. This was actually MY helm, one that I had worn in countless photo shoots. I modified from a top lid with a lobster tail to a SCA legal helm. There was enough padding in there for me, so it should be okay for the client. When you look closely, you can see some of the holes from its previous incarnation as a lobster tail hat. They don't affect the useability, and they will give the new owner something to talk about!
(There is one oval hole in the side, you can see it in the picture if you click to embiggen it. Your guess is as good as mine...grin!)

The holes in the brow just provide a little more warning for overhead sword shots. Again the two smaller holes on the sides are there to mount a chin strap. On inexpensive helms like this, there will be a lot of sanding marks. But all the edges have been properly finished to prevent damage to rattan swords, and the high rounded rivets don't catch the rattan, but they give the helms a steam punky boiler plate look.

The back curtain is recycled from a fourteen gauge galvanized steel renaissance festival sign. Seems I ran out of fourteen gauge at JUST the wrong time, and I really wanted to get these finished. Way back when the Renaissance Festival closed, I bought all the signs, just in case I needed them some day. And the day came.
(nothing wrong with them, and it somehow seems proper that a piece of the Ren Faire goes on to fight again!)

This helm did not need the big horizontal "barrel" band, and so I just mounted it directly to the skull. The skull around the edge has spun so thick that it is just under a quarter inch, so you don't really need the horizontal band. By skipping the band, I saved about a half hour of time, and saved the customer some money.


10 G helms....
11 gauge spun tops, with tool marks sanded off clean. fourteen gauge curtain and face plate. Rivets are 3/16 rivets, spaced 2 inches apart or less. Comes with simple chin strap. eye slots are between 7/8ths and one inch in size. (you cannot get a one inch dowel into them) These helms meet and exceed all SCA, AEMMA, and JFC regulations.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A knight rebuilt

This is the University of Dundee's CSI style reconstruction of a knight who would have died in a tournament around the time of the battle of Stirling Bridge. (1297) The scar on his forehead was a healed battle axe wound, (must have bled like hell!) and there is a second one on his left brow. The fact that he survived it shows the value of a helmet! In addition to his damaged noggin, he had an arrowhead lodged in his chest. That arrow might have slowed him down some, but the sword blow would have finished him off.
This is what the fellow would have looked like before the sudden violent blow which eventually killed him...a sword blow which sheared through his nose and jaw.
Considering where he died...Stirling Castle....there is a certain amount of question about his identity, however at five foot seven inches, and very solidly built, the young man (in his mid 20's) was used to handling weapons. His bones were very solid, and the insertion points of tendons indicate that he was very solidly built. No doubt his physique would have resembled that of a modern rugby player. He also had the characteristic bone spurs on his hip bones of extensive and regular horse-back riding.

Best guess of his identity...Robert Morley, English knygt, died in tournament at Stirling Castle 1388. Though apparently the Time Team people have a different theory, and are putting an entire episode together to prove it. Well, we will see now won't we!

The University of Bradford's Dr Jo Buckberry examines a female skeleton which was found alongside that of the knight underneath the castle chapel.

One of the best articles about this work may be found here.

It is by examining the relics of the past that we learn so much of how they lived, and in this case, died. It is interesting of course to see what the bones can tell us about the individuals involved, however as Dr. Jo Buckbury (who did the excavation) states, "This group is highly unusual, because of where and when the people were buried, suggesting that they might have been socially important and have died during extreme events such as sieges. "

The "Time Team" people will have a whole episode on this fellow on Thursday. "Stirling Man". In it they will attempt to show why this fellow is NOT Bob Morley, and who he might be instead. Can't wait!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Summer Academy of the Arts

My name in print again!

Algonquin College in Ottawa Ontario, Canada, is trying a new thing....summer academy of the arts. These are week long special interest courses. I have been asked to teach two courses, one on "how to make armour" and another on "How to make chain mail". This accounts for two of my weeks this summer at any rate! I imagine the usual caveats apply...if there are not enough sign ups, they won't run the course. But considering how many people have expressed an interest in these things, it seems to be a positive sort of thing.

Armour on week four (July 26-30), and chain mail on week six (August 9-13). I think I'll be taking a class myself, the "lost wax casting" course on week three.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Ordinances of Richard II

Will McLean on his "Commonplace Blog" has sussed out the rules that governed his knights. He had them made up, and read to his troops as part of his Scottish campaign. Francis Grose (1801) had translated it into the vernacular, and hats off to Will McLean for finding it!

It funny, there are only XXVI simple and concise rules. Things like
that every one shall well and duly perform his watch in the army, and with the number of men at arms and archers as is assigned him, and that he shall remain the full limited term, unless by the order or permission of him before whom the watch is made, on pain of having his head cut off."

Compare to the modern military's full shelf full of Queen's Regulations and Orders, none of which mention the head cutty offy part. And I note, that like the modern QRO's, Richards "KRO's" have almost every thing to do with how to get on in day to day life, and nearly nothing about how to conduct a campaign. It is also interesting to note the harsh penalties compared to modern times...clearly the people that King Richard were using to consolidate his hold on the kingdom needed to be kept on a very tight leash. Or maybe like his dad, he was just being a Dick....
(sorry, could not resist it!)

The illustration at the top is a very rare glimpse of the inside of a brigantine armour. This one dates to rather later than Richard II, but from all I have read and studied, there would have been very few differences. Most armour during the time would have been chain mail of course, but this was the "transition" period. Big pieces of armour, because they are welded up from small marble sized bits, scraps and one pound trade bars would have broken too easily.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Old barrel helms

These un-dated barrel helms were in the Tower of London Museum in Leeds. We are looking at the age of chain here, though for the purposes of jousting, these heavy helms would have been ideal.

Here is a close-up of the helm. The damage is, well, understandable. It is iron after all. however, details worth noting are the amazing narrow eye slots. The rivets instead of forge welds. The nasal which comes out a bit in front. Ahhhh so THAT's how they made room for the nose!

The above helm is remarkable in that the eye slot seems to be nothing but a saw cut in the edge of the helm. Makes me wonder if it is possible to see out of it! However, that big piece of metal with the smiley face holes is a door, with a hinge on the left side, and a fastener catch on the right side, so it may have been open most of the time, and only slammed shut at the last second.

The houndskull here is much the same design...clearly made for jousting. Two halves of heavy steel form the body, and a most menacing pointed nose with not enough breathing holes for comfort in them. This face plate slides up when not protecting the fellow's face. Note the integral gorget. That's different!

A later period close helm way in back. Does it belong here I wonder?

click on the above picture to see all of them together.

The helm on the far right is also a real "pot helm", made for function, not looks. There is something very "medieval" about that helm. The high frankenstein forehead clearly provides a ton of protection from rocks being tossed off the battlements, and the face plate is open until needed, at which time, it is nice and cozy and safe against arrows and such.

I wish these were dated, but I suspect the only real way to date them would be to examine medieval manuscripts with similar equipment being shewn. However after having read on another fighting blog that medieval armour was uniformly light duty, I just had to point out that a lot of the real fighting was done by guys in good heavy armour.

Late breaking news....

> I have a comment about your blog post from 10 May, 'Old barrel helms'. I'm
> afraid all those pieces are 19th century fakes from the workshop of the
> infamous Samuel Pratt. They were believed to be original when first sold or
> "discovered", but have since been proven fake. That whole little room on
> the Tournament Gallery mezzanine was dedicated to 19th century medievalism
> and fakes, which is why the close helmet was with the helms. I don't know
> where they will be when the new Tournament gallery opens later this summer.
> Hopefully they'll be better labeled, at least.
> Regards,
> Nick D

So I checked with my copy of Laking's book, and what a surprise, the very same pictures I have up here are shown to be fakes. Ha ha! I consider myself to be "punked"!!!! I urge anybody who has an interest in armour (and their fakes) to check out Mr. Lakings books. Here is a link to the relevant page.

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