EBK Activity Sheets



Dark Age British Armour & Weapons
How do we know what they was like in the Dark Ages?
  • The Hunterston Brooch: from the WordRidden Fickr Page -  Jessica Spengler, used under a Creative Commons Attribution LicenceBritish soldiers would have worn the standard male outfit of a woollen or linen tunic, woollen trousers (braccae) and chequed or striped cloak.
  • The cloak was probably fixed with a posher penannular brooch than normal. The famous Hunterston Brooch (see picture), that was found in Scotland, may be either British or Scottish.
  • The Northern British poem, 'Y Gododdin' tells us more:
    • Over their tunics, warrior chiefs wore coats of chain mail. 
    • Around their necks, they wore torcs (solid metal rings with knobs on the ends) to show how important they were.
    • There is no mention of helmets. Old Roman helmets may have been worn in earlier times, or simple metal frames with a leather covering.
    • They were cavalrymen riding small horses. They fought with lances and swords. The swords would originally have been Roman 'spathae' with no crossguards.
    • The ordinary foot soldiers who followed them fought mostly with spears: pikes for hand-to-hand combat and javelins for throwing. Archaeologists have found similar spears.
    • There is no mention or bows or arrows.
    • Shields are described as white-washed and covered in animal skins as well as studded armour plating.
  • Welsh carvings show that soldiers also used small shields called 'bucklers' and also fought with clubs.
  • Knives have been found by archaeologists. They were probably used in combat as well as for eating.
  • Swords were highly prized (everybody wanted them). Land grants (documents giving away or selling land) show that a single sword could be worth the same as between 25 and 70 cows.
  • Activity Sheet available

Post-Roman British Warrior -   Nash Ford Publishing


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