ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Cavalry Helmets

armourBy the outbreak of the Civil Wars new innovations in the accuracy and reliability of firearms, new tactics and the increased length of campaigns in the field had led to a decline in the use of heavy armour. However the civil war did witness the last use of heavy armour with the cavalry cuirassier.

The Cuirassier was armed with a heavy sword, pistols and either a poleaxe or war hammer. They took their protection from heavy articulated armour which gave protection from the knees up to the head However more often than not these troops would find their mounts worn out after one big charge and the expense and rarity of this type of armour along with the inability to protect the wearer from the latest firearms led to its fast decline during the 1640's.

1620 Cuirassiers "close" burgonet
A closed burgonet. Skull formed from 2 pieces, the right side overlapping the left. Notable 17th C construction with seam forming a crease, not a raised comb, the 2 halves are riveted together. This helmet has a small movable peak of round form. Bevor extending up to cover the cheeks and form a "Y" shaped hole. Peak and bevor pivoted on the same rivets. Single neck lames at the front and back with rolled lower edges.

Cuirassiers helm-front
Cuirassiers helm-open
Cuirassiers helm-rear

1570 burgonet
burgonet, burguenet, etc. from, Old French F. bourguignotte. 
A light open faced helmet popular in the 16th C as an alternative to the close helmet for light cavalry and still found in use in the 17th C. It was usually furnished with a peak over the brow, a combed skull and hinged earpieces which allowed the helmet to be put on and taken off.



1640 Harquebusier armour
Harquebusier armourThe cavalry termed "Harquebusier" would ideally be equipped with a back and breast plate, a helmet of lobster pot fashion or a burgonet, a steel bridle arm gauntlet and a buff coat made from buffalo hide, which was usually think enough to turn a sword blow. Arms would have been a combination of pistols, a short barreled flintlock or wheellock carbine and sword or in Covenanting service a proportion of lances. Covenanting horse rarely attained the level of armour of their English counterparts and by the third civil war armour would be greatly dispensed with due the smaller stature of the horses available to the Scots.


1640 3 bar lobster pot helmet.
A light helmet designed to give good protection and affording excellent visibility. The classic three bar nasal face piece is usually indicative of English manufacture. The peak is hinged at the sides and the skull was generally formed from 2 halves, joined with a roll to form a slight comb. The neck guard, which gave the helmet its name due to its similarity to a lobsters tail could be formed from articulated lames or from a solid plate with false raised lames.

3 bar lobster pot helmet - front
3 bar lobster pot helmet - leftside
3 bar lobster pot helmet - rear
3 bar lobster pot helmet - top
3 bar lobster pot helmet
3 bar lobster pot helmet - underside


1630 single bar lobster pot helmet.
The imported European examples of the lobster pot helmets were possibly more common and sometimes termed "Zischagge". It has been suggested that some of the more extreme patterns of this style of helmet derive from shapes used in Samuria helmets in use at that time. The single bar was usually a sliding affair held in place by a prominent screw. The radiating ridges on the skull are typical and there was greater variety to be found in this pattern of helmet over the 3 bar style due to a more diverse range of sources of manufacture.

single bar lobster pot helmet - front
single bar lobster pot helmet - side
single bar lobster pot helmet - rear


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