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Object Title

Shaffron - Warwick shaffron

Shaffron - Warwick shaffron



Object Number



Purchased 26 February 1987 from Howard Ricketts Ltd. From the Armoury of the Earls of Warwick; sold by an anonymous vendor. Funding received from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Physical Description

Of voluminous form, enclosing the entire head. It comprises a main plate and two side plates. Brown patina.
The shaffron is made of a large main plate of steel covering the whole front of the face, from the skull to the nose, down which a pronounced central keel runs. The highly embossed and raised dome-like areas over the eyes are pierced with holes, probably 45 originally on each eye, to allow the horse to see and the flared nose area is pieced by another series of holes (‘breaths’) to allow the horse to breathe more easily. The two large holes at the top of the shaffron, surrounded by rivet holes, show where the shaped upright ear-defences, which are now missing, would have been attached. Riveted to the edges of the frontal plate are two steel side plates, which meet in a central keel at the top, and protect both the back of the skull and cheeks of the horse’s head. The edges of these plates are pierced by many small holes by which a thickly padded inner liner, which it now lacks, would have been attached. The liner, which may have been padded with grass, hay, horsehair or wool, cushioned the wearing of the shaffron and because of its thickness also increased the size of the shaffron, making it much larger than the size of the actual horse’s head. Three pairs of larger holes at the top of the side plates are for attaching the shaffron to a defence which protected the horse’s neck (‘crinet’), which would have been a either long mail collar or made up of laminated plates.





OverallDepth295 mm
OverallLength770 mm
OverallWeight4.9 kg
OverallWidth357 mm

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Europe

Bibliographic References

Sir William Dugdale, The Antiquities of Warwickshire, London, 1656: 344

Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, London, 1786: xxvii, pl.XLII

History of Guy Earl of Warwick, Coventry, 1829 (repr.): xi fig.

John Hewitt, Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe, II, London and Oxford, 1860: 317

J Starkie-Gardiner, Foreign Armour in England, London and New York, 1898: 77;

G F Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms, III, London, 1920: 151-2, fig. 957

J G Mann, Die Alten R³stkammerbestßnde auf Warwick castle, Zeitschrift f³r Historische Waffen-und Kost³mkunde, XIV, 1936: 158-9, pl.XI2

Claude Blair, European Armour, London, 1958: 184

Helmet Nickel, English Armour in the Metropolitian Museum, Connoisseur, CLXXII, Nov. 1969: 197

London Museum, Chaucer's London, (handlist), London, 1972: addenda

I Eaves and T Richardson 1987 The Warwick shaffron. Journal of the Arms and Armour Society xii.4: 217-22

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


This type of shaffron appears on an ivory chessman, possibly English, perhaps 1350-75, Metropolitian Museum of Art, New York, 1968.68.95 (H Nickel op cit., fig.4; J Hewitt, op cit., pl.XLVIII) where it is shown with a mail bard with fabric trappings. Most illustrations of the type belong to the period 1400-20; on two figures from the tomb of Henry V (d.1422) in his chantry chapel in Westminster Abbey (G.F. Laking, op cit., fig.958);in an illustration of the Battle of Ronceveuz, in 'Les Grandes Chroniques de France', Leningrad Public Library, f.30v; in a detail of a joust from a sketch book attributed to Andre Beauneveu, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, M.346 f.5; and in illustrations for the poems of Christine de Pisan, British Library, Harleian MS 4431 f.98, f.114 and f.135. The type which developed from these shaffrons, without a nose piece and with semi-circular eye defences open at the front, is commonly illustrated from about 1410: for example, 'Hystoire de Roys de France', British Library, Royal Ms 20c, vii, f.136.

Image of The Warwick Shaffron, European, about 1400 (VI.446)
Image of The Warwick Shaffron, European, about 1400 (VI.446)
Image of The Warwick Shaffron, European, about 1400 (VI.446)
Image of The Warwick Shaffron, European, about 1400 (VI.446)
Image of Shaffron - Warwick shaffron from Warwick Castle
Image of Shaffron - Warwick shaffron from Warwick Castle