Iron helmet resting on padded storage box
Close Burgonet Helmet

This is the only close burgonet helmet found by Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists. Introduced in the early 16th century, the close burgonet helmet was designed to provide full head and face protection while evoking classical military authority. In Europe, this type of helmet was mostly worn by cavalry. Close burgonet helmets could have weighed as much as 20 pounds. As there was no cavalry in early Jamestown, and the style of warfare encountered in Virginia required rapid maneuvering and the use of peripheral vision, the helmet was modified to make it useful.

These fragments of the helmet, the visor and chin protection element collectively known as a bevor, were found in a James Fort cellar that was filled with trash c. 1617. Removal of these components from the skull piece of the burgonet sacrificed some protection but enabled a colonist to wear the skull piece alone as a lighter helmet with greater visibility and flexibility. The skull piece that belongs to this cabasset helmet has not yet been recovered, although a nearly complete burgonet was recovered from the Smithfield Well.

These parts of the helmet were found discarded in an open position, and although the helmet has undergone extensive conservation, the artifact is concreted so that the hinges on the sides no longer operate. However, the visor and chin protection element’s original form has been reconstructed digitally, see below for image.

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