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breastplate recovered from Jordan’s Journey
near Hopewell, Virginia

44PG300/1D Breastplate 453

Although fragments of breastplates are fairly frequently encountered on
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.

have been recovered from other

sites in Virginia, such as
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

proper side of a breastplate with a wider flared skirt

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