Height: 200 mm
Length: 700 mm
Purchased from Charles Roach Smith
Room 40: Medieval Europe
Medieval, About AD 1350
An extremely rare collar for a suit of armour
This mail collar, worn around the neck and shoulders, is a piece of exceptional craftsmanship evident in the quality of its manufacture and decoration.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, knights and infantrymen wore whole suits of mail to protect themselves during battle. By the middle of the century, mail suits were replaced by those made up of iron plates. The areas between the plates of plate armour, however, still required protection, and mail was the ideal solution due to its flexibility and the freedom of movement it allowed.
Most of this collar is made of iron links, each formed of a piece of wire bent into a circular shape, the ends of which have been riveted together. On the standing neck, unlike the usual four, each link of this very rare collar is connected to six others, three each from the rows above and below. The extra density would have offered better protection to the wearer. The iron links would originally have been black, so would have contrasted spectacularly with the copper alloy links, gold in colour, which have been used to decorate the collar. The copper alloy links are for decoration only and the ends of each link are therefore butted rather than riveted. They form a band along the base of the collar and additional triangles of links are attached at the base of the neck section.