Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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Re: Chainmail?

Postby the_power on Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:59 am

Well, if someone got the article from jstor, and stripped it down to text, it'd be fine. It's just a problem if jstor have stamped their name on it, or added some other 'creative work' to 'add value'.

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Re: Chainmail?

Postby brendan on Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:55 pm

cool that there is evidence of it though, now I have even more excuse to wear my Maille! :D

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Re: Chainmail?

Postby Seathrun on Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:07 pm

Found it in google books

( 494 )



Among tlie many relics that lie hid beneath the surface,
perhaps there are none which throw more light upon the
manners and customs of our race, and of the generatioiis
of men who have lived and passed away, than the weapons
which they used, and the defensive armour which thqr
wore. Our Muaemns can boast of a fine series of offeiisiTe
weapons, commencing with the stone battle-axe and flint
lance-head, and passmg down through the bronze age,
with its leaf-shaped swords, its engraved and omameiited
spear-heads, and its short dagger-Uades, for hand-to-hand

Peltian of Iha Kinl Mail, full >iK.

But from the more delicate and fragile character of
mail armour, and the material of which it was made, few
examples of it have been found in a perfect state.

In Jime, 1876, the workmen eniployed on the line oi
railway known as the North Wall Extension, which was
being made through the Phoenix Park, Dublin, turned


up the coat of mail and silvered bronze badge now in my
collection, and which I exhibit. The armour is of that kind
called d ffrains (Torcfe, from the resemblance of the rings
of mail to barley corns : it is singularly perfect, and has
been well preserved, in spite of the wetness of our soil,
and the decaying effect of damp and exposure upon steel
or iron work, as wilt be seen by the annexed engrav-

ing. Although the back part of the hauberk is per-
fect, the front is injured, and more or less defective ;
there is but one sleeve, and that the left, remaining.
It may thus bear record to Jhe courage of its former
owner, who encountered his enemies face to face,' and

n ftdTonii Tolneiibu* cancidsruit. Sal. Cat. lii.


received their blows in front. Indeed he must have been
no mean opponent, as the hauberk is much too large, and
overlaps, upon the chest of a six foot marL In its present
state it weighs lO^lba; but when perfect it probably
weighed from 161bs. to 201bs, — a sufficient proof of the
muscular strength of the wearer.

Coats of mail have been classed into four varieties of
ringed coats, viz., those made of flat rings sewed on side
by side ; coats made of oval rings, each one so placed as
to overlap half the next ; coats made of lozenge-shaped
pieces of metal, and coats with scales.^ That here figured
belongs to the second variety, and corresponds most
minutely with one described by the Byzantuie Princess
AnnaComnena* (1083—1148), who, in her memoirs, says
" that it was made entirely of steel rings riveted together,'*
that it was unknown at Byzantium, and was only worn
by the inhabitants of the north of Europe. If the
Princess had this hauberk before her when writing, she
could not have described it more accurately : every little
link in it, as will be seen by the full-sized engraving
at p. 464, is a riveted ring, and as all the rivet heads
are on the outside, the inner surface is rendered perfectly
smooth, while the outside is rough and jagged, and
better calculated to turn off and withstand, a spear or
sword thrust. We have other written evidence of the
hauberk having been worn in the north of Europe during
the eleventh century. The epic poem of Gudrun relates
how Herwig took off his hauberk and placed it upon his
shield, and in another place how his clothes were covered
with the rust of his hauberk, proving that the armour
was not made of rings stitched upon leather or tissue, but
that it was perfect in itself, and that the same effect was
produced, when putting it on, as resulted from this speci-
men having been placed on a man's shoulders as the most
convenient support for its being properly photographed.
There is little or nothing written upon the wearing of
armour in this country, except what the Rev. James

» Dcmmin, •« Weapons of War," p. 314, fi4\os itvi&iraffeai Uayop, iral rhr xf^^

fig. 6. Bell ft Daldy. 1870. ^uXciJa* tow arpart^ovi Annn Comnen*

'*Or\oy yift K§\TiKo» x<t<^»' ^^rri at- "Alex. Hist. Byzant," torn, xi., lib.iin-

Z7IP9VS KplKos M KpUta x«/)«ircrAry)it^wj, pp. 814-15. Edit. Yenet. 1729.
icaX rh at^pioy, &ya0ov o-iS^pev, Aart Kei


Graves, in the History, Architecture, and Antiquities of
the Cathedral of St. Canice, has published when describ-
ing the monumental eflSgies there. To this valuable work
I refer the reader.

There are many incidental allusions in other works
io the wearing of coats of. mail (in Irish Luireacha^ like
the Latin Lorica) by the native Irish. In vol. i., 3rd
series, p. 191 of this *' Journal," in the curious story of
"Beware the Cat," there is a most interesting description
of the coat armour worn by the Irish kern in Henry
VIIL's time, in which ''his hames" is described as "a
corselet of maile, made like a shirte" and ''his scul" is said
to be " covered over with gilt leather and crested with
otter skin." Coats of mail are mentioned in the Brehon
Laws of Ireland, and Walker, in his essay of The Arms and
Armour of the Ancient Irish, p. 109, figures an ancient
monumental eflSgy at Old Kilcullen, county Kildare,
dressed in chain mail.

But the most remarkable sculpturings of this class
are the figures of gallowglasses upon the tomb of Philem
Mac Cathal Crovedearg O'Connor in Roscommon Abbey.*
So far back as the tenth century coats of mail are enu-
merated among the Irish tributes^ (see Book of Rights),
and such coats remained in use down to the middle of the
sixteenth century, being in fashion here long after they
had been superseded by plate armour in England.

Though not clothed in a coat of mail, the figure from
Clonmacnois in my collection (see p. 224, vol. i., 3rd
series) wears a hehgiet with cheek pieces, and the pecu-
liar ribbing upon the arms and chest is not unliKO a
coat of armour. In ArchdalFs " Monasticon," p. 208, there
a curious reference to the wearing of coat armour, where
it is receded, under the year 1381, that the Irish clergy
sometimes threw off their gowns, and covered their
cassocks with coats of mail. In Elizabeths reign,
Spenser, in describing the quilted leather jacke, says,
"I do not wish it to b6 laid away, but the abuse
thereof to be put away, for being used to the end
that it is framed, that is, to be worn in warre under a

' For engraTixigs of these, see the me- W. R. Wilde in this '* Journal/' p« 262.
moir of Gabriel Beranger by the late Sir July, 1870.


shirt of mayle'' ; and farther on he states that both the
horsemen and the foot soldiers, whom they term gal-
lowglasseSy " did wear shirts of mail over their jackes."
We have, therefore, the clearest historic evidence that
coats of chain mail were worn in Ireland so late as
during the lengthened reign of Elizabeth.

But what adds much to tiie historic interest of this hau-
berk is the armorial badge, here
figured, that was found with it,
by which it can be assigned with
certainty to one of the O'Neill
sept. The badge is made of
bronze overlaid with sU ver, and
although it is shield-shaped, it
cannot be called a shield, for it
is inverted, having the point
uppermost: it bears upon a
base of three steps a dexter
hand couped at the wrist ; or as
Spenser haa it in writing of «™"^^:?Si:2So?!^'^
the battle cries of the Insh, 2^
" They under O'Neale cry ^ Laundarg-a-bo ' that is, the
bloody hand which is O'Neale's badge." The hand
is within an inverted heater-shaped shield, and has
supporters very boldly pourtrayed, namely, two Kons.
From the shape of tms badge and the character of its
work, and from examples of chain armour with armorial
badges figured in published works, and on sepulchral
eflSgies, we may assign it to the middle of the fifteenth
century. In vol. i., No. 26, of the "Dublin Penny
Journal," there is a notice by the late Dr. Petrie of the
coronation chair of the O'Neils of Castlereagh, and an
engraving of their arms, from an impression from the
silver signet ring of the celebrated Turlough L3mnoch,
which was found near Charlemont, in the Co. Armagh.
The seal bears the bloody hand, with the initials "T. 0.,'^
within a circle. The signet, showing the same badge,
and autograph of Owen Roe O'Neill, will be found in the
*^ Journal" for March, 1858.
Trí labra ata ferr túa: ochán ríg do chath, sreth immais, molad iar lúag.
Three speeches that are better than silence: inciting a king to battle,spreading knowledge, praise after reward.
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