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Burgonet: HEN.M.12A-1933

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Unknown (Probable)




Burgonet, for light cavalry or infantry use, with etched overall decoration. Formed of a one-piece skull with an integral peak and neck-defence, and a pair of modern, hinged cheek-pieces. The skull has a high medial comb that extends from just above the brow to just above the nape, and is boldly roped along its crest. The comb is pierced with a small hole at the rear of its right side. The medially-ridged, integral peak is slightly downturned and projects forward to a central point which shows some damage. Its edge has a file-roped inward turn accompanied by a narrow recessed border. The medially-ridged, integral neck-defence is of similar form to the peak, but is more acutely pointed. Its rear corners have broken away and its central point is pierced with a pair of later suspension-holes. The lower edge of the skull is cut away in a chevron shape at each side to accommodate the cheek-pieces. The apex of each chevron is cut with a shallow, rectangular notch to accommodate the hinge of the cheek-piece. A crack just to the front of the notch at the left side is repaired with a riveted internal patch. A series of fifteen, brass-capped lining-rivets with circular internal washers run around the brow, lateral cut-outs and nape of the skull. Several of the washers have been wholly or partly lost as a result of corrosion. A sixteenth lining-rivet is missing from the right of the brow where a large rust-hole has been repaired with a welded patch. Attached at the nape, just above the level of the lining-rivets, by a pair of brass-capped, round-headed rivets, is a plume-holder formed of a tapering tube of circular section with integral arms. The tube is decorated with groups of deeply-incised, transverse lines top and bottom, and, between them, with deeply-incised pairs of diagonal lines. The obtusely-pointed arms are decorated with filed nicks around their edges and semi-circular notches top and bottom. The restored cheek-pieces are attached to the skull by modern internal hinges of rectangular form with cropped corners. The hinges are secured at each end by pairs of brass-capped, round-headed rivets. Each cheek-piece has horizontal upper and lower edges, and a vertical rear edge. Its upper rear corner is cut off diagonally at the hinge. Its front edge curves forward and inward at its lower end towards the chin, and its lower edge is flanged outwards to form a continuation of the neck-defence. The front and lower edges of each cheek-piece have file-roped inward turns accompanied by narrow, recessed borders. Secured at the lower front corner of each cheek-piece by a single brass-capped, round-headed rivet with a circular internal washer is a leather loop for the cord that formerly tied the cheek-pieces together at the chin. The centre of each cheek-piece is pierced with four circular ventilation-holes arranged in a square formation around a similar single, central hole.
The helmet is etched on each side of its comb with a panel of scrolling foliage terminating in fantastic animals. The scrolls involve, at the centre of each panel, a circular medallion containing the bust of a classical warrior on a stippled ground. The panel is bordered top and bottom by a band of imbricated scales broken up at intervals by recurved, transverse bands. The bands of scales are themselves enclosed by pairs of plain, narrow bands. The bands at the base of the comb are continued forward and backwards into the peak and neck-defence where they enclose central bands of scrolling foliage. Each side of the helmet is etched with bands of scrolling foliage terminating in grotesque masks and fantastic animals. The bands radiate from the point of the chin and are separated from one another by narrower scaled and plain bands, matching those that border the panels on the comb. The recessed borders of the peak, cheek-pieces and neck-defence are decorated with running foliage on a stippled ground. Part of the composite half armour HEN.M.12A-J-1933


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 33.8 cm
Height: 28.2 cm
Weight: 1.25 kg
Width: 19.1 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


16th Century
Circa 1560 - 1570


Probably North Italian

The helmet is bright with a medium patination overall, except on the modern cheek-pieces which have a light to medium patination. The etching would originally have had a blackened ground, now only partly preserved.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy)
Loop composed of leather
Integral Peak

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Formed of a one-piece skull with a medially-ridged integral peak and neck-defence, and a pair of modern, hinged and pierced cheek-pieces; hammered, shaped, riveted, with overall etched decoration, file-roped decoration, incised lines, nicks and recessed borders

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.12A-1933
Primary reference Number: 17828
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 25 November 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Burgonet" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-19 19:48:58

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{{cite web|url= |title=Burgonet |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-19 19:48:58|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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