Object Title

Armet - The Horned Helmet

Armet - The Horned Helmet



Object Number



Tower arsenal Historic Tower collection

Physical Description

The skull is in the form of an armet, with cheek pieces hinged low at either side. It is embossed with alternate raised and recessed panels, the latter bordered by small rivet holes for the attachment of the original silver-gilt decorative panels. Along the centre of the skull is a series of holes, 4 round ones close together at the top, and 6 more widely spaced square ones running down to the rear. The lower edge is flanged to turn of thhe collar, and the main edges are bordered with brass-capped iron lining rivets with circular washers, some retaining fragments of leather lining band. At either side is a slot through which a realistically embossed and formerly gilt steel ram's horn is inserted, and attached rather crudely by two large and one small rivet at the right, and three even ones and a hole for the fourth at the left. The left cheekpiece hinge likewise has spare rivet holes in the middle position of either hasp. It is attached at the rear with messy, round(ish) headed rivets, which would have fouled the silver gilt fretwork, so must be replacements, though the front rivets, and therefore the hinge, seem original. The cheekpieces follow the shape of the skull, are similarly bordered with original lining rivets, and have half hinges in raised notches low at either side, for the attachment of an alternative face defence. They do not meet under the chin, and both have rather broken out regions at that point (lining rivet holes are currently used for their attachment together). At either ear is a rosette of 6 pierced holes. These are etched with a rosette of flowers centred on each hole. The lining rivets on the cheekpieces are etched around with four petalled flowers with sepals at the joind, probably intended as roses. Each side hinge has an etched dragfon, and the borders are etched with narrow bands of hatching. Traces of gilt remain on these on the right cheekpiece, and it is likely that all the etched areas were gilt. At the centre front of the skull is a restored hinge, which engages the apparently original hinge at the top of the mask. The mask is embossed with a full face, with a long, hooked nose complete with dewdrop, and many of the features including the eyes and mouth are fretted. Under the chin are two pieces studs of some age (but probably not original) for some earlier attachment to the cheekpieces. High at either side are crude slots wher the mask was forced inside the cheekpieces. Across the brow is a narrow recessed band bordered by small rivet holes for a silver-gilt fretted band matching those of the skull. Over the eyes are bolted a pair of brass spectacle frames, the right eyepiece mended with rivets at either side (with iron patches at the back) and at the join of the frame. The mask is etched with a similar border to that of the skull, though slightly cruder in execution, and is humourously etched with stubble, eyebows, shading on the lips and creases at the corners of the eyes.


Etching, Embossing, Gilding



Dimensions: (over horns) width 485 mm; height 335 mm; depth 370 mm (internal) width 225 mm; height 220 mm Weight: 2.89 kg

Bibliographic References

A R Dufty and W Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate LXXXII.

Claude Blair, 'The Silvered Armour of Henry VIII,' Archaeologia, Vol. XCIX, 1965, pp. 1-52.

A Borg, 'The ram's horn helmet', Journal of the Arms and Armour Society VIII.2, December 1974: 127-37

C Blair, 'Comments on Dr Borg's 'Horned helmet'', Journal of the Arms and Armour Society VIII.2, December 1974: 138-85

Ian Eaves, 'The Tournament Armours of King Henry VIII of England', Livrust Kammaren, 1993, pp. 6-8, fig. 5

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1


RC2: Permission to lend required from the sovereign