The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Mail cap
  • Mail cap
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • 15th century or 16th century
  • Iron
  • Diameter: 0.624 cm, links
    Weight: 0.59 kg
  • A8
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The origins and precise purpose of this unusual cap of mail are uncertain. Although hood of mail were a standard part of knightly equipment up until the middle of the fourteenth century, this piece does not appear to be part of such a hood. It appears to be constructed of one or more scrap pieces of mail, cut into four triangular pieces which were then joined to create a semi-spherical form. While the links which make up the triangular sections are of a consistent form, those which form the ‘seams’ are different, being round in cross-section rather than flattened.

    In its overall form this piece resembles the steel skull-caps often worn by infantrymen in the 15th and 16th centuries. Such skull caps were sometimes made out of other armour materials, such as hardened leather or scale armour. Perhaps this piece represents an attempt to make such a cap out of finely-woven mail. Alternatively it could have been made as a protective interlining for a hat.