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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > Late Roman Spearhead Wrapped in Chain Mail

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LOT 0449

GBP (£) 300 - 400
EUR (€) 330 - 440
USD ($) 390 - 520

Bid History: 7   |   Current bid: £110

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Bid History: 7   |   Current bid: £110

Late Roman Spearhead Wrapped in Chain Mail

320-410 AD

A very important fragment of ring armour (lorica) made from interlocking iron wire links in the basic pattern of four-through-one formation (one solid ring interlocking with four rivetted), forming alternate sections of welded and unwelded rings; the armour is wrapped around a cavalry spear of socketted type, leaf-shaped with a strong median rib, socket fastening hole in the lower part of the shaft. 496 grams, 30.5cm (12"). Fine condition, conserved. [No Reserve]

From the family collection of a UK gentleman, by descent in the early 1970s; previously acquired before 1960.
See Shadrake, D. & Shadrake S., Barbarian warriors, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, London, 1997; Bishop, M. C., Coulston, J.C.N., Roman military equipment, from the Punic wars to the fall of Rome, London, 2006, p.208; Appels A., Laycock S.,Roman buckles and military fittings, Witham, 2007; Kazanski M. and Mastykova A. ’Les tombes de chevaux chez les fédérés de l’Empire d’Orient sur la côte est de la mer Noire (II e-VI e s.),’ in Terra Barbarica, Monumenta Archaeologica Barbarica, Series Gemina, Tomus II, Łódź-Warszawa, 2010, pp.56-71.
Mail armour was constructed from copper alloy or iron rings, with each ring passing through the two rings directly above and below. The rings were either completely closed, or made open and then riveted on one side as in the Kiel specimen. Long coats of mail were widely used, and the best specimen of the 3rd century AD comes from the Danish bogs, where several Roman armours were thrown as sacrificed booty in the Thorsberg and Vimose Moors. Leaf –bladed and angular point lancea were the main spear-point types for the period from the late 2nd to the 4th century. This point however belongs to a spear adapted for heavy cavalry use (e.g. a kontos), and an identical spear came from the grave of a Roman Foederatus horseman in Cibilium (Kazanski & Mastykova, 2010, fig.3, grave 259), armed in the Roman manner.