Object Title

Mail shirt

Mail shirt


1400 - 1499

Object Number



Bequeathed by EHH Archibald, died May 1998, formerly in the Stead Collection.

Physical Description

The shirt has long sleeves and is thigh-length, with an opening at the front to the waist, ending at the bottom in a square cut-out. The skirt flares, and the elbow sections of the sleeves are angled. The mail is of riveted construction throughout. The bottom edge, that of the right side of the front opening, and the cuffs are bordered with three rows of brass links, and the neck opening with a single row. At the front of the neck opening is an inscribed link, a butted brass link with the letters V and A separated by three crowns, all cast in relief. The mail links of the chest are heavier than those of the rest of the shirt. They are of D section, the rounded side inside and the flat side outside, with prominent crested overlaps on the chest section, on the body, and rectangular section (flat on inside and out) on the sleeves. All the links are 10 mm in diameter. The brass links are all of D section wire, riveted with iron wedges. The shirt is in excellent collection, with hardly any missing links.

Featured in

Hundred Years War


Dimensions: height 770 mm, width at chest 550 mm (chest size 1120 mm, 44 in), span across extended sleeves 1580 mm Weight: 9.5 kg (21 lb)

Inscriptions and Marks

A brass link cast with V and A between three crowns at the neck.


Places Germany


The sleeve span suggests that the owner was about 6 ft tall, with a chest size about 40-42 in. The heavy flat links are closely comparable with Churburg nos 1 and 2, both with signed links, the former with 'stadt ...', the latter with 'melchar hauc' and the arms of Kaufbeuren (Trapp and Mann 1929: 3-6, pl. VIII).
The 'Crown' mark found on the butted brass inscribed link is the same as that found on a series of mail fragments 'possibly' from 'the Old Tower Collection' ((III.7, III.40, III.42, III.1716, III.3370). The significance of this is not clear, as the 'crown' mark is found on all the individual links on the other examples, but only on the one brass link on the Archibald hauberk. It seems likely to be an, as yet, unidentified individual makers mark. An individual link on Hauberk 1 at Churburg has what is described as 'The letter B ... stamped in relief in iron on the riveting point of the top row of the lower borders shows up in contrast against the brass'.(p.3). It is possible that this 'B' is infact a vertical 'crown'- This to be confirmed or refuted. The 'crown' mark on the RA fragments are also on the riveting point of the link and must have been created the same time the link was riveted. The connection between the Archibald 'crown' and the crowns on the other pieces was made by RC Woosnam-Savage (07/11/2003),