This helmet is a type called a burgonet helmet. Burgonets are characterized by the tall comb on the top and hinged cheek pieces on either side of the face. This helmet is now missing its cheek pieces, but the tall comb differentiates it from the slightly earlier style Cabasset helmet. The comb appears decorative and intimidating, but it also was a form of protection, reinforcing the center of the helmet to protect the skull.
This burgonet has two cut outs and attachment holes on either side indicating that cheek pieces would have attached to protect the face. Early burgonet helmets first appeared in the 16th century, and like this one were light, open helmets. For increased protection, burgonets may have included an element called a falling buffe, which could have been pulled up from around the neck to cover the throat and lower face. Close burgonet helmets were common by the 17th century, and included a hinged bevor, a similar throat and neck protective piece that hinged down from above the head, offering fully integrated face and skull protection. A bevor to a close burgonet helmet was recovered at Jamestown, removed from the rest of the helmet to change the helmet from a close to an open style. It is possible but unlikely that these two artifacts are associated with each other, as typical closed burgonets included a brim over the eyes, which this helmet does not have. This helmet was recovered from a well at Jamestown which was filled with trash as late as 1622, meaning that this piece of armor may have been worn long after its original manufacture. Although popular in England with cavalry, it was likely worn at Jamestown by a soldier who operated on foot. This is the only complete burgonet helmet recovered archaeologically at James Fort, but 12 burgonet cheek pieces have been found, indicating that burgonets were worn by a number of individuals at the site. All of the burgonet elements have been recovered from contexts which date to the early fort period, ca.1607-1624.