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Burgonet: HEN.M.78-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Burgonet, made up in modern times from a cut-down skull of a close-helmet, a later peak and a composite neck-defence. Formed of a rounded, one-piece skull, a pivoted peak and a neck-defence of six lames. The top, rear of the skull is decorated with a spray of flutes of v-section, separated by single incised lines. The flutes radiate forward and outward from the nape, and terminate in a transverse, incised line at the front and rear. The lower edge of the skull is cut off straight at the rear, just above the height of the nape. At each temple it retains a short inward-turned section, file-roped with pairs of incised lines. The turn has been crudely cut away in an arch over the brow, and also over the ears. The centre of the skull is pierced just to the rear of the front end of the flutes with a pair of modern transversely-aligned holes. Similar, but slightly smaller pairs of holes are pierced just in front of the flutes, and just above the nape. A single small hole of the same character is pierced a short distance above the latter pair. The lower edge of the skull is fitted at the front with a total of seven rivets, some having flat, internal heads and some flat external heads. Two at either side occupy holes for the original lining-rivets while the remainder serve to plug later holes. At either side of the brow is riveted a modern, plain, circular stud, serving as a stop for the lower edge of the peak. Each side of the skull is pierced near its lower edge with two pivot-holes. The vacant lower one originally served to attach a visor and bevor to the skull when the latter formed part of a close helmet, while the later upper hole is occupied by a pivot with a low, rounded head that serves to attach the peak now fitted to the front of the skull. The head of the right pivot bears traces of a punched rosette design. Both pivots are threaded and retained by internal nuts. That for the right pivot is square, while that for the left is circular. The broad, flat, peak has short, slender arms. Its front edge, which curves forward to an obtuse, central point, has a file-roped inward turn. The turn was formerly accompanied by an etched recessed border which has been hammered and ground out in modern times. The tip of the peak is pierced with a modern wiring-hole. Attached at the nape of the skull is a neck-defence of six downward-overlapping lames of which the last is flanged outwards to form a prominent, almost flat flange that widens slightly towards its centre. The lames are connected to the skull and to one another at their outer ends and centres by modern round-headed rivets with octagonal or square, internal washers, except in the case of the fifth and sixth lames which are connected to one another at their centres by a modern internal leather, secured by a round-headed rivet with a square, internal washer on the fifth lame, and an externally-flush rivet on the sixth lame. Each end of the sixth lame is pierced with a later wiring-hole. The remaining lames of the neck-defence show numerous, mostly earlier holes, which have in many cases been plugged with rivets in modern times. The skull has been cut down from that of a close-helmet. The peak and neck-defence is in itself composed of several disparate elements, all of which have been cut and reworked to their present form. The last two lames show a darker patination than the rest but do not belong to one another. The remaining lames have a common character and possibly common source, but cannot originally have been connected to one another as they are now since the holes in one lame do not relate to those of the next. The sixth lame has been cut from the front plate of a collar. The remaining lames may have been cut from those of a skirt or tassets.


History note: From the collection of Edwin J. Brett. Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 29.8 cm
Height: 23.5 cm
Weight: 1.146 kg
Width: 23.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Early#
16th Century, Late
19th Century
Circa 1510 - 1520 Circa 1570 - Circa 1800 - 1900


The helmet is bright with light patination on the skull and first four lames of the neck-defence, and somewhat heavier patination on the peak and last two lames of the neck-defence.

The skull can be compared with that of two close helmets in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris, and, like them, was probably made in France or Flanders about 1510-20. The peak was probably made in Germany about 1570. The lowest lame of the neck-defence is cut from a collar probably made in Italy in the late 16th or early 17th century. The remaining lames, probably cut from a skirt or tassets, may have the same date and origin.

Western European

Components of the work

Internal Leathers composed of leather ( modern)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a rounded, one-piece skull, a pivoted peak and a neck-defence of six lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised, fluted, punched, and file-roped decoration

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: small oval brass tag with stamped number 250

  • Text: 250
  • Method of creation: Stamped
  • Type: Tag

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.78-1933
Primary reference Number: 18480
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 11 January 2023 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: 2024-05-30 13:48:45

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{{cite web|url= |title=Burgonet |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-30 13:48:45|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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