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Close helmet: HEN.M.56-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown




Close helmet, for heavy cavalry use, with associated visor and restored bevor and neck-defence. Formed of a rounded, one- piece skull with a 'sparrow's-beak' visor and bevor attached by common pivots, and a neck-defence of one lame. The skull has a low, roped medial comb that terminates just above the brow at the front, and at the nape of the rear. The comb is bordered to either side by a single incised line, and pierced at its apex with a large hole, perhaps for attaching a reinforce, but possibly modern. The front edge of the skull is cut away to form an arched face-opening bordered by ten modern, externally-flush lining-rivets, retaining a modern leather lining on the left side. The centre of the face-opening has been repaired with a riveted and welded internal patch, as has the left side of the comb at the top rear. Seven modern, rounded-headed lining-rivets with octagonal, internal washers run around the rear of the skull at the height of the nape and retain fragments of a modern leather lining-band. Attached slightly left of centre of the nape by a pair of modern, flat-headed rivets is a modern plume-holder of corrugated form, embossed with three longitudinal ribs and possessing short integral arms of trapezoidal form. The lower rear edge of the skull is flanged outwards to receive the neck-defence. The right corner of the flange has a brazed repair. The rear of the skull is pierced at either side with two pairs of lace-holes at the height of the pivots and another pair at the height of the nape. The skull is fitted at the right of the neck with a modern pierced stud to receive a swivel-hook from the bevor. The modern, riveted pivots that attach the visor and bevor to either side of the skull have small round heads. The visor is of 'sparrow's beak' form, with a marked step beneath its centrally-divided vision-slit. The upper edge of the vision-slit is bordered by a pair of incised lines. The visor is pierced between the vision-slit and the point of the beak with a horizontal line of ten circular ventilation-holes, and between the point of the beak and the lower edge with two such lines of eight circular ventilation-holes, separated by a line of four horizontal ventilation-slots. The upper edge of the visor rises to a low cusp at its centre, while the lower edge descends to a low cusp at each side of the chin. The arms of the visor have lobed terminals. The left terminal has broken through just in front of the lobe and been repaired with a riveted internal patch. The right terminal is cracked above and below at the same point. The lower edge of the visor is pierced at either side of the chin with a construction-hole, now plugged by a modern, flat-headed rivet. The modern bevor is shaped to the chin. Its front edge is cut away to form a deep, u-shaped face-opening, rising to a low cusp at its centre. The edge of the face-opening has a plain, inward turn. The lower-edge of the bevor is flanged outwards to form a front neck-defence, and has a file-roped inward turn. A small, modern swivel-hook, which engages the pierced stud on the skull, is attached at the right side of the neck by a small, modern, round-headed rivet. Each side of the neck and each side of the chin is pierced with a construction-hole, corresponding to similar holes in the skull and visor respectively. Those at the sides of the neck are now plugged with small, round-headed rivets. The modern neck-defence of one lame fits within the flanged rear edge of the skull and is secured to it by a modern, round-headed rivet at either end. The neck-defence has a somewhat square lower edge with rounded corners. The edge has a file-roped inward turn. The neck-defence is pierced with a vacant hole adjacent to each connecting-rivet.


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: 30 cm
Height: 28 cm
Weight: 2.45 kg
Width: 21 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Early#
Circa 1510 CE - Circa 1530 CE - 1540 CE


A close helmet completely enclosed the head and has a large skull to which are fitted two hinged parts, the visor, covering the eyes and nose, and the bevor (a modern replacement) protecting the lower face and neck. The visor has eye slits for vision and holes for ventilation when in the down position. These pieces are secured with pegs at the side of the skull and held in place for use in battle by catches at the side. However these could be raised up to give better ventilation when not in a battle situation. This helmet would have been worn by the heavy cavalrymen – heavily armoured and armed soldiers riding on horses.

Although the visor fits the skull well, it is of an earlier fashion than the latter.

South German

The helmet is bright with a light patination overall.

Components of the work

Lining-band composed of leather ( fragments, modern)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a rounded, one-piece skull with a 'sparrow's-beak' visor and bevor attached by common pivots, and a neck-defence of one lame; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised lines and file-roped decoration, an embossed, ribbed plume-holder and pierced ventilation holes

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.56-1933
Primary reference Number: 18370
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 19 April 2021 Last processed: Thursday 7 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) "Close helmet" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-22 07:23:55

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{{cite web|url= |title=Close helmet |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-22 07:23:55|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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