Object Title





Object Number



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

Physical Description

With a one piece skull and large cheekpieces but missing its visor. The rounded one-piece skull is embossed with a low, full-length medial keel, which rises to a point near the rear, where the keel is flattened, widenedand pierced with a key-hole slot for a plume-holder. The skull has a broad tail which curves inwards towards the base, where it is fitted with a small rectangular plate, articualated by a pair of sliding rivets; there is no provision for the attachment of a rondel. Above the temples, the skull is fitted with the rear portions of the hinged visor terminals. These are attached by conical headed rivets cut into rosettes.
The cheekpieces are very large and full, with an arched lower edge and prow-like profile at the front, with a concave curve at the throat and convex curve over the face. They have a shallow, scooped face opening, with a central notch on each. The left cheekpiece overlaps the right in a boxed join, and they are fastened by a pin-catch at mid-height. Each is attached to the skull, to the rear of centre at either side, by an internal hinge. Near the front of each cheekpiece is a vertically aligned pair of rivets, with flat internal heads retaining traces of a leather.
The lower edge of the cheek-piece and the tail extension were fitted with twenty rounded brass vereilles, each pierced for the cord fastening a pendant mail fringe. The right cheekpiece is pierced with a triangle of six ventilation holes. The main edges of the cheekpieces at the face-opening and lower edges, and the lower edge of the tail -extension, are outwardly turned. The brow edge of the skull, and the lower edges are bordered by holes for the attachment of a lining, fifteen and thirty respectively.

The visor is missing. The skull has a large missing portion at the keyhole slot. Four of the verveilles are missing. The right rivet of the tail extension is modern.

Featured in

Hundred Years War



HelmetDepth207 mm
HelmetHeight278 mm
HelmetWeight4300 g
HelmetWidth206 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Maker's mark
A right hand with two fingers raised in benediction, attributed to Benedetto da Molteno of Milan.
Either side of the skull and on either cheekpiece
Construction marks
Four v-shaped nicks.
Lower edge of each cheekpiece and at the inside of the right lobe of the tail-extension.
Arsenal mark
Rotunda number, MA 2280
Low on the left cheekpiece


Bibliographic References

Rotunda Catalogue, 1874, p.139 no.2280

Rotunda Catalogue, 1889, p.149 no.211

C. de Cosson, W. Burges, 'Catalogue of the Exhibition of Helmets and mail', Archaeologia XXXVIII, 1881, p.55 no 37 fig. 31

G. Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms, London, 1920, vol.2 p.80-81, fig 431

C. ffoulkes, 'Armour from the Rotunda, Woolwich, transferred to the Tower of London, 1927', Archaeologia LXXVIII, 1929, p.67 fig.3, pl.XIII fig 4

Claude Blair, European Armour, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1958, p.87.

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

L.G. Boccia, Le Armature di S Maria delle Grazie di Curtatone di Mantova e l'Armatura Lombarde del'400, Milan, 1982 tav 42, p24 n28.

W J Karcheski Jr and T Richardson, The medieval armour from Rhodes, Leeds, Royal Armouries 2000: no. 1.1

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. 73

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


Another armet of the same type and by the same maker, with restored cheekpieces and sliding extension plate at the nape, lacking a visor, was formerly in the Curtis collection (sold Christie's 12 October 1984, lot 297, ill, formerly in the Lord Brougham and Vaux collection, sold Christie's 29 June 1933 lot 38; H D Barnes collection, sold Sotheby's 27 April 1951 lot 69; Claude Blair; H L Peterson, sold Christie's 5 July 1978 lot 187 ). Similar armets include (the skull), Athens B60 (Boccia op cit., fig 43), and the Metropolitan Museum 29.158.5 (Boccia op cit., fig 44) from Chalcis. Benedeto da Molteno is recorded as working in 1438. Slightly later forms are exhibited by IV.498 (ex-Churburg) and Athens B59, by the Master R (Boccia op cit., fig 161.)

Metallurgy Report: A flake was detached from the inside of the helmet for examination by Dr. A. Williams. The microstructure was found to contain mostly Martensite with a 'dark etching' material, probably a very fine pearlite (formerly identified as troosite) with grains of proeutectic ferrite. The 'dark-etching' material and the ferrite outline the prior Austenite grains. A few, small slag inclusions are visible. The armour has been made from a variable carbon content steel. After fabrication, it has been heated and then quenched at a rate too slow to form a full-Martensite structure; instead, ferrite and probably pearlite have separated before the remaining Austenite has transforme to Martensite. This may be the result of a two stage cooling, first slow and then fast, possibly some cooling in air prior to quenching. The average hardness is 490 kg/mm^2.