Forearm scale armour of John de Northwode
I've been trying to find out more about this but after two hours of reading here on the forum and elswhere on the net I'm still back at square one. I'm considering making myself a pair of lower cannons for my 14th century soldier outfit but I'm unsure about the construction and thought I'd share my thoughts with you people here.
I'm thinking of making the scales from quite thin iron plate and fasten it to something underneath but what? Soft leather could work as well as fabric but the main issue is how to fasten the scales. If I rivet them I need to have a pair of holes approximately in the middle of each scale and one pair on the upper end. Much like the earlier roman scales. This to prevent the scales from "flapping" when moving and to make sure the whole thing stays flat against the arm. Stitching them to fabric will probably not last long unless every hole is very firmly rounded off, which I seriously doubt a medieval ramourer would do... Rivet should be easiest I guess. It's fairly easy to see the reason to have a ridge on each scale since it would strengthen a thinner plate and thus reduce weight but this shape would make it harder to fasten them flat against eachother and will surely cause gaps between the scales.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Haven't found any satisfying answers anywhere...


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Since Roman scales were sewn to a fabric base, I see no reason why this would be less durable in the 14th century. This thread at Armour Archive regarding contemporary scale chausses may be of interest. I posted a few examples of the Roman stitching method, one from an extant excavated piece.;p=2457597
Scales have been sewn to a fabric base since long before the Romans. It has been a successful method of armour construction for over three thousand years.
Good points there gentlemen. Weird that there are so many evidence from early periods and so few from the medieval era. Reading through my post again I realize how much extra work it would be to rivet the scales, and that on top of the extra cost/weight it would cause. Now, in a small forearm defense it probably wouldn't matter too much but I see the difference if it would have been a larger peice of armour. I'll go out to my workshop and see what I'll manage...
There are plenty of medieval examples, just not from Western Europe.
I'd be tinning or silvering those, would look great!

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