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Burgonet: HEN.M.85-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update


Unknown (Possibly)




Burgonet, for light cavalry use, with etched decoration, lacking its cheek-pieces. Formed of a one-piece skull with an integral peak and neck-defence. 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 medially-ridged, integral neck-defence is downturned and projects forward to a central point. Its edge has a boldly roped inward turn accompanied by a recessed border. The medially-ridged integral peak is of similar form to the peak but is turned down less strongly. The lower front edge of the skull is cut away in a deep chevron shape at each side to accommodate the missing cheek-pieces. The apex of each chevron is cut with a shallow, rectangular notch to accommodate the hinge of the cheek-piece. The whole of the left hinge and the proximal end of the right hinge are preserved. They are in each case of plain, rectangular form and retained by a single brass-capped, round-headed rivet. The rivet at the right side is fitted with a square, internal washer. The distal end of the left hinge is pierced with three holes of which the central one, occupied by a flat-headed rivet, probably represents a later modification. The front hole is occupied by a small round-headed rivet, and the rear hole remains vacant. The skull is fitted with eight lining-rivets around the brow and a further five around the nape. All are of brass-capped, round-headed form with circular internal washers, except for the outer two at the nape which are of externally-flush form to permit the overlap of the cheek-pieces, the second from right at the nape, which is replaced by a brass-capped, round-headed split pin, and the fourth from left at the brow, which lacks its brass cap. Attached at the nape by a pair of brass-capped, round-headed rivets with circular internal washers is a later, gold-painted plume-holder of broad form with an elaborately-shaped outline, now incomplete at its upper end.
Each side is etched on a stippled and blackened ground with a design of scrolling foliage, in some cases terminating in flowerheads, winged male herms, masks and birds. The decoration is enclosed above and below by a narrow plain band. Each side of the skull is etched with a bold, linear design of scrolling foliage beneath a bird in display. The scrolls at each side of the brow terminate in fantastic animals, while those at each side of the rear of the skull terminate in classical busts wearing helmets formed as dolphins' heads. The recessed borders of the peak and neck-defence are etched with a design of running foliage on a stippled ground.


History note: The helmet presumably passed through the hands of the dealers, Fenton & Sons of 11 New Oxford Street, London, whose tag it bears. Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 35.3 cm
Height: 27.5 cm
Weight: 1.06 kg
Width: 20 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century
Circa 1560 - 1570


The helmet is bright with a mottled medium to heavy patination overall. A fairly large hole has rusted through the left rear of the skull. Three smaller holes have rusted through the comb. A small section of the edge of the peak has broken away a little to the left of its centre.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Plume-holder composed of gold paint
Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a one-piece skull with an integral, medially-ridged peak and medially-ridged neck-defence; hammered, shaped, riveted, with etched decoration on a blackened and stippled ground decorated with recessed borders

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: 'Fenton & Sons Ltd. 11, New Oxford St., London' '5549'
  • Location: Attached to the hinge at left side
  • Method of creation: Printed lower half address, inscribed upper half number
  • Type: Tag
  • Text: F.N.
  • Location: Underside of peak
  • Method of creation: Painted in red
  • Type: Initials

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.85-1933
Primary reference Number: 18516
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 06:48:45

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{{cite web|url= |title=Burgonet |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-30 06:48:45|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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