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Wars of Independence

Scottish Soldiery

Great Helm (Replica)

Description:
By the early 13th century, the face guards on simple helmets had deepened and developed to enclose the entire face and neck. These cylindrical helms became the normal protective headgear for knights until the middle of the 14th century when they were commonly superseded by the visored bascinet type of helmet, forms of great helms were still being worn much later for tournaments as the full face protection and small eye slits provided excellent protection from lance splinters. Great helms, although padded themselves, were supported by an arming-cap tied in place by chin straps and worn over a chain coif (chainmail cowl). Although helms such as this were used throughout Europe, and would have been used during the early years of the Wars of Independence, they probably only saw limited use by Scottish knights who more often than not dismounted to fight and these helmets would probably have hindered their wearers vision too much to be of use to anyone fighting on foot, they were primarily a mounted knight’s helmet. One of the few existing descriptions of Sir William Wallace describes him as wearing a simple steel cap, probably an early type of bascinet, which would have been open faced to allow for better vision. The mounted knights from England which he faced at Stirling and Falkirk though were probably wearing helms such as this.

Due to their great age, few of these helms survive today and reproductions such as this one are commonly used to fill gaps in collections.

Materials/Media:
steel, brass
Source:
Dean Castle
Digital Number:
EAAM118a
Creation Date:
20th century (13th century type)
Copyright:
East Ayrshire Council


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