(About): The Grandfather of Chainmail
The Roman chainmail lorica hamata remains one of the most recognisable pieces of chainmail armor. It was used throughout the Roman Empire, from around the 2nd-century BCE, becoming the backbone of the Roman panoply of armor in the Late Roman Empire, and remained undisputed all the way through to the Empire’s fragmentation in the 5th-century CE. In all, it was the last word in European body armor for nearly six-hundred years, and the successor designs and successor forms continued to dominate warfare until they were superseded and replaced by plate armor in the 13th– and 14th-centuries CE. Our hand-made Lorica Hamata Roman Chainmail is the perfect opportunity to incorporate the chainmail lorica hamata into your own fantasy roleplay or early-medieval re-enactment.
Our hamata chainmail includes a period-accurate shoulder-mantle, a brass-effect securing hook, and leather edging as seen in Roman sculptural friezes. It is available in a number of different materials and constructions, each designed to particular roles and requirements of roleplayers and re-enactors – the array can seem boggling at first, but they’re easy to differentiate. Keep reading for a quick primer on which is perfect for you.
This fine example of reproduction Roman chainmail is currently offered in either mild steel or aluminum. Mild steel is close to what Roman and Celtic smiths would have made the lorica hamata chainmail from in the period: it was usually made from either soft iron or bronze. Mild steel is much more resilient than either of these, but it is authentic enough to be pleasingly weighty and is very robust, able to stand up to light combat and shrug off the wear-and-tear of re-enactment and roleplay use. Its finish also looks flawless and period-accurate. The only drawbacks of mild steel is that it is generally heavier than other materials, and it is not stainless, hence should be kept dry and properly oiled when not in use: this means that it’s the ideal choice for hardcore LARPers who want extra grit and experience, or for re-enactors seeking the next level of authenticity.
Aluminum chainmail is a fantastic choice for entry-level roleplayers, or experienced players who don’t want the hassle of maintenance. Aluminum chainmail is a recent invention, and can’t really be considered to be a period accurate material – but it more than makes up for this with its brilliant ease of use. Aluminum is stainless, so it doesn’t need to be meticulously oiled and dried, and it is also around half the weight of other forms of our lorica hamata chainmail, keeping you fresh on the battlefield for longer. However, its comparative fragility means that, whilst it’ll easily stand up to being ragged around in roleplay and re-enactment, it isn’t safe for contact combat.
We sell our Lorica Hamata Roman Chainmail made with either flat-ring or round-ring construction, or with round- or wedge-rivets. Flat rings have been stamped from a sheet of metal and riveted together, whilst round-rings are made from extruded wire. It is theorised that Roman chainmail was actually made from alternating rows of punched rings and wire rings – with round rings generally typifying later construction.
Wedge rivets tend to date from the High Medieval period after the chainmail lorica hamata was superseded by later forms of chainmail, but many re-enactors argue that they sit more comfortably and snag less; however, domed rivets are both more historically authentic and are more aesthetically pleasing. It seems likely that the Celtic smiths who made the lorica hamata used a wide variety of techniques (including alternating rows of both punched and wire rings!) – so construction is mostly a matter of personal taste.
(Curiousity): As Roman As Apple Pie
Like most things that we consider typically Roman, the Romans stole the chainmail lorica hamata from their Celtic neighbours, who were extremely skilled and cunning metalsmiths with a long history of chainmail manufacture when the Romans encountered them in Northern Italy in the 200s BCE. Lorica hamata means literally ‘armor of hooks’ – this may be a reference to the rings themselves, or it may refer to the hooks with which Roman chainmail was attached to cloth or hide over-armor.
- Material: Mild steel / Aluminum
- Ring type: Round / Flat ; Wedge rivet / Round rivet
- Construction: 4-in-1
- Size: [TO FOLLOW]