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Breastplates

Whole breastplate recovered from Jordan's Journey near Hopewell, Virginia
 

44PG300/1D  Breastplate 453  

Although fragments of breastplates are fairly frequently encountered on 17th-century Virginia archaeological sites, it is rare to come across a complete example.  Sheet steel or iron that has been in the ground near a tidal river for several hundred years is often in poor condition when recovered by archaeologists.  Armor fragments are covered with such thick layers of corrosion that they are almost unrecognizable, and very little of the original metal is present under the layers of corrosion.  These examples have been carefully stabilized in the DHR conservation laboratory. 

The breastplate was perhaps the most important  piece of the pikeman's suit and the section that needed to be fitted to the individual wearer most carefully.  As a result, a considerable amount of variability in size and shape of breastplate sections is represented.

In addition to the necessity of approaching a custom fit for different sized men, a group of armor pieces at any given 17th-century site would represent armor from slightly different time periods.  It was sometimes old, or old fashioned, before it was shipped to the colonies. 

Breastplates have been recovered from other 17th-century sites in Virginia, such as APVA Jamestown Rediscovery.

Whole breastplate from a trash pit at Jordan's Journey restored in the same bent, deformed shape in which it was found

44PG300/52F-40   Breastplate 403

Major section of a breastplate with brass rivets and inset armhole sections

44PG302/EU2129-198   Breastplate 1394

Top section of a breastplate for a small person. Brass rivets with diamond shaped washers are common.

44PG302/EU2095-119   Breastplate 0008

Right proper side of a breastplate  with a wider flared skirt 

44PG307/EU48 F-2 S-3   Breastplate 1100

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