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Purchased from Mr. Andrew Lumley, 10 July 1989. Allegedly from 'a river in Europe'

Physical Description

For the right knee. It is formed from a single plate of iron, shaped to the knee, with straight sides, the upper edge gently convex and the lower edge slightly more deeply curved. All the edges are plain. The upper and lower edge each bordered by six original flush iron-lining rivets with circular flat heads. It is decorated with a bold medial ridge with an angular flute at either side. Much of the upper centre is corroded away. The exterior is covered with a pale green patination, with spots of corrosion. The interior is considerably corroded and scaling with an area of concretion formed of quartz grains.

Featured in

Hundred Years War


Dimensions: height 120 mm (4.7 in.), width 117 mm (4.6 in.) Weight: 170 g (5 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Europe


Poleyns of this type were designed for use on gamboised cuisses, either sewn on or strapped around the knee. The only surviving comparable examples appear to be a pair, said to be made of leather, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from Bordeaux (G F Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms, Vol. 1, London, 1920, p.121, fig. 149a). The earliest literary references to poleyns appear in 1313, 'i greve et i poulaine d'un piece', cited by C Gaier, L'idustrie et le Commerce des Armes dans les Principautes Belges, Paris, 1973, p.369, after Richard; 1315, 'pour deux bacines, uns greves et uns poulains', Archives de Pas de Calais (V Gray, Glossaire Archeologique, Paris, 1928, Vol. P.271), and 1316, in the Inventory of Louis X, 'item iij paires de greves et iij paires de pouloins d'acier', (J Hewitt, Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe, Oxford and London, 1860, Vol. II, p.183). These continue until the late 1370s. They appear in representation in numerous effigies currently considered to date from the late 13th century, or even 1250-60, in three forms; a small plate attached to a gauboised cuisse; a small plate strapped directly over mail chausses; and a larger rectangular plate strapped twice over mail. For these early examples, see H A Tummers, Early Secular Effigies in England. The Thirteenth Century, London, 1980, passim. Th earlier examples are of a simple, disc form, as Wickampton, Norfold (Tummers pl. 114), East Tuddenham (pl. 115), Mavesyn Ridware, Staffs. (pl. 26), Salisbury Cathedral II (pl. 63), Mamble, Worcs. (pl. 95) and Wichelsea, Sussex (pl. 70). The large type is represented by Kingsdon, Somerset (pl. 59). The two shaped poleyns assigned by Tummers tot hat period are Sefton, Lancs. (pl. 70). The large type is represented by Kingsdon, Somerset (pl. 59). The two shaped poleyns assigned by Tummers to that period are Sefton, Lancs. (pl. 93) and Chaddesleigh Corbett, Worcs. (pl. 78) which has a medial ridge. On the brasses, however, they appear first on the early London series, Trumpington, Cambs., c.1326; Setvans, Chartham, Kent, c.1320-31. The Bures brass is illustrated in detail in M Norris, Monumental Brasses. The Memorials, Vol. II, London, 1977, pl.14, showing that this like the rest of the group, has large, rectangular poleyns fastened over the cuisse with three straps. Poleyns of the present type, however, appear on later brasses, for example Sir High Hastings at Elsing, 1347 (Norris pl.21), Sir John de Cobham 1354, (pl.38), Thomas Cheyne, 1368, Drayton Beauchamp (pl.71), William Cheyne, 1375 (pl.72), and Willaim de Audley, 1362, Horseheath (pl.73). The type is also ubiquitous in Europe during the same period. The Romance of Alexander, Flemish, d.1338 -44, Bodleian MS 264, contains numerous examples, either of this exact form or with very small pointed or lobe-like side wings, and usually fastened by a single strap. The effigy of Ulrich von Huss of Isenheim, d.1344, in the Unterlinden Museum, Comar, includes an exactly similar poleyn bordered by rivets and with a medial ridge (see K Baunch, Das mittelatterliche Grabbild, Berlin, 1976, abb.220). A slightly earlier Italian example is seen in the relief of a member of the Beccadelli, d.1341, at Imola, St. Domenico (ibid, abb. 297). Slightly later continental examples include the alabaster effigy of Duke Christopher, d.1363, son of Valdemar Atterdag, at Ruskilde Cathedral, Seeland, Denmark, the effigy of Johanness von Falkenstein, d. 1365, at Nuremburg, and the elegantly side-winged effigy of Gebhard von Querfurt, d.1383, at Querfurt Stadtkirche (all the above on Foreign Effigies file, RA). Possibly the latest example of poleyn of this type appears on the brass of John Cray, d.1892, Chinnor, Oxon. (Hewitt, pl. xxxiii), where it is combined with a complete plate leg harness, but apparently not directly articulated to the plate cuisse, and bordered by rivets.