Object Title





Object Number



Transferred from the Rotunda Museum of Artillery, Woolwich, 1927. From Rhodes, bought by Sir J Lefroy, 1867.

Physical Description

Of one piece construction, with a smoothly curved face opening, joined gracefully to the short, slightly pointed tail. There is a low keel-like comb running from the back of the skull to the brow, pierced at the centre with a circular hole. The bas of the skull is encircled by a line of eighteen pierced holes for lining rivets, of which fifteen survive, ten of them retaining brass caps. Below this line of rivets, at the centre of either side, were pairs of rivets for the attachment of a chin strap. At the right, the one at the rear is lost; at the left, the front one is filled with an old flush rivet, and the rear hole has been drilled out leaving one of a group of large holes.
Around the main edge is an applied gilt copper-alloy border, which is chased with egg-and-dart and acanthus motifs. It is attached by thirteen brass capped rivets, of which three are missing, and eight are replacements. A 12.5 cm length is missing at the right rear. At the centre front is riveted a plume-holder comprising a tube faced with a copper-alloy shield engraved with a vase of flowers on a hatched ground.



HelmetDepth310 mm
HelmetHeight240 mm
HelmetWeight2150 g
HelmetWidth195 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Maker's mark
Cross keys below an open coronet, and MA 2270.


Bibliographic References

J Hewitt, 'Helmets of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries called salades', Archaeological Journal, vol.XXVI, 1869: 20-24 pl.1 fig.1

Rotunda Catalogue, 1874: 139 no.2270

C de Cosson, 'Catalogue of the Exhibition of Ancient Helmets and Examples of Mail', Archaeological Journal, XXXVIII, 1880: 500 no.19 pl.II fig.16

Rotunda Catalogue, 1889: 149 no.16/201

G Laking, A Record of European Armour, 1920, London, vol.II: fig.34

C ffoulkes, 'Armour from the Rotunda, Woolwich, transferred to the Armouries of the Tower, 1927', Archaeologia, LXXXVIII, 1928: 61-72 pl.XIII fig.5

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

L G Boccia, F Rossi, Armi e Armature Lombarde, Milan, 1979: tav.68

A V B Norman, G M Wilson, Treasures from the Tower of London, London, 1982: 41 no.9

W J Karcheski Jr and T Richardson, The medieval armour from Rhodes, Leeds, Royal Armouries 2000: no. 1.22

T Richardson, The armour of the kKnights of Saint John from Rhodes, in Musee de l'Armee, Entre le glaive et la croix, chefs-d'oeuvre de l'armurerie de Malta, Paris, 2008: 68-79 at p. 74

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


One of the most popular types of helmet of the late Middle Ages, worn by all classes of soldier from knights to the humble archer, was the sallet. Having evolved as an off-shoot of the bascinet along with the ‘barbuta’ during the late 14th century, one of the earliest references to a helmet known as a ‘sallet’ or ‘azalata’, dating to 1389, occurs in Galeazzo and Bartolomeo' Gatari’s ‘Cronaca Carrarese’. Originally distinguished from the bascinet by its short upturned tail over the back of the neck and lack of mail aventail, by the 1430s the sallet had developed into a number of regional styles. In Italy, the sallet or ‘celata’, sometimes also called a ‘barbuta’ today, exhibited deep sides and either a rounded, T-shaped or spectacled ‘Corinthian’ style face opening. Towards the end of the 15th century the Italian sallet developed into a more elegant form with shallower sides and tail swept back over the neck as exhibited in this beautifully crafted example. These features may have been introduced from Germany and demonstrates the wide exchange of ideas within the armour making industry.

Metallurgy Report
This is a low-carbon steel with large areas of course pearlite and few slag inclusions, mixed with ferrite. Its carbon contentis, perhaps, 0.2-0.3%. The partly divorced nature of the pearlite suggests that the steel may have been reheated, possibly during the application of the brass.

Maker's Mark
The 'cross keys' mark has been attributed to Domenico dei Barini detto Negroli, after a version of it incorporating the letters DN (The left arm of a composite armour, Metropolitan Museum 29.158.1 (f)). Other versions of the mark are found on the breastplate of Higgins Armoury Museum, Worcester no.2607; a breastplate, Cleveland Museum of Art no.16.1566; the cuirass and greaves of the armour of Ulrich IX of Matsch, Churburg (O G Trapp, J G Mann, 'The Armoury of the Castle of Churburg', London, 1929, pl.XX, no.19, mark 20) and the bevor of Churburg 23 (ibid, pl.XXIX) with the crowned M. This pair of marks appears on a bevor, formerly de Cosson collection (G. Laking, 'A Record of European Armour', London, 1920, vol.II p.27 fig.368). Other 'cross keys' marked pieces include a breastplate, Severance collection C3 (ex-de Cosson, 1893 sale, lot 221, ex-Zschille, ex-Macomber; the bevor of a composite armour, Madrid A6; a sallet at Madrid D12; a breastplate, Medinaceli collection, Madrid (seen by JG Mann, 1924); a jousting helm, Leningrad I.230 (E Lenz, 'Catalogue of the Arms and Armour Section of the Imperial Hermitage', Leningrad, 1908 p.164-5; a sallet in the Marzoli collection, Brescia; the left pauldron, and its gardbrace, of armour B1 at the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, Mantua (LG Boccia, 'Le Armature di S. Maria delle Grazie di Mantua', Milan, 1982, tav.222-5); and a fluted backplate in the collection of Ronald Lauder, New York (ex-Cincinnati Museum of Art).