NOTES ON THE KALKRIESE STYLE LORICA SEGMENTATA 3/15/11
|Archeological finds from the Teutoberg Forest Battle site at Kalkriese, Germany have made it clear that the Corbridge lorica segmentata was not the earliest form of segmented armor. Kalkriese yielded a complete breastplate and numerous hinged fittings, all of which date to the defeat of Varus in 9 AD. Similar fittings have been found at other sites as well, some apparently dating to the late first century BC. The breastplate can be seen at http://www.mcbishop.co.uk/jrmes/j0601.htm. Click on the thumbnail at right to see my reconstruction of the Kalkriese breastplate. For some reason there are two rivet holes near the outer edge, where one would expect to find only one, for the front shoulder guard leather. Also, recent information from Dr. MC Bishop shows not only that the edge of the neck opening is flanged upwards, but the entire plate has a narrow brass edging! This remarkable detail immediatedly begs a more ominous question: How many other plates on this lorica were brass-edged?|
Evidence for the Kalkriese
is still so scarce that a complete reconstruction would be highly
However, in volume 10 of ARMA, Dr. Bishop suggests a classification
type A and type B. Type A is based on the Kalkriese breastplate,
with the vertical leather strap riveted directly to the plate.
horizontal closure buckle is riveted to a leather strap which is also
directly to the breastplate. The hinge which connects the plate
the mid-collar plate is not lobed like the Corbridge examples, but
square with the bottom end having two scallops which form a central
Similar scalloped fittings have been found elsewhere, including
generally with 3 or 4 rivets, or 2 rivets placed side-by-side instead
in a lengthwise line. The Kalkriese type B lorica has hinged
and buckle fittings much more like the Corbridge types, but the edges
notched or scalloped and there is often decoration such as incised
or rings around the rivet holes. Bishop and Coulston's Roman
Equipment even shows a girdle plate lacing loop with a
end. Fragments of plates associated with these kinds of fittings
suggest rolled edges at the neck openings, and possibly an upper
guard that is one piece without hinges. There is also a plate
Vindonissa with a Kalkriese hinge, which might be an upper shoulder
plate or possibly a backplate.
| At right is my
incomplete reconstruction of the Kalkriese type A lorica. Two
are shown for the Upper Shoulder Guard, from the Vindonissa
The Lesser Shoulder Guards are based on the relief from Arlon,
which has been interpreted as showing mailshirts with segmented plate
guards. There is no evidence for the girdle plates or
There is a fragment of mail shown in JRMES Volume 4 with a small
buckle riveted to it, which would work neatly with the theory of a mail
girdle section, but it is probably several centuries later in date.
I have not done a reconstruction of Kalkriese type B, as it may have looked much like a Corbridge with different fittings. But there could still be some surprises to be found!
| At left is shown the
from my reconstruction of the Kalkriese type A breastplate. No
hinges of the Corbridge types have been found on any Augustan
At far left is a Kalkriese type B hinged buckle, obviously similar to the later Corbridge fittings but with scalloped edges and chiseled lines. It took me an hour and a half to make! But the type A seems to have no hinged straps or buckles and just the very plain main hinges, so making the complete lorica should be child's play compared to a Corbridge. IF we ever get enough information...
This page is merely intended to
summarize the evidence of the earliest known type of lorica
Although finds from Britain show that the Kalkriese lorica was still in
use beyond 43 AD, a solid reproduction will have to wait for more
Legio VI Victrix has also done a reconstruction, discussed on
this Roman Army Talk thread: http://www.ancient-warfare.org/index.php?option=com_kunena&func=view&catid=20&id=123633&Itemid=40
The Legio VI version is
available for sale from Imperium Ancient Armory, http://www.imperiumancientarmory.com/Body%20Armor/Body%20Armor-Roman/Kalkriese/Kalkriese%20Lorica.htm.
(See also the Legio XX pages on the 2nd century AD Newstead Lorica, and the segmented Manica or armguard.)