Europian Wars

Reliquary of St Eustace

Egg and cress sandwiches

Mold gold cape

Old Street

Belsize Park


North Wembley

Quilted cotton horse armour

Nataraja, Lord of the Dance

East Putney

Mill Hill East

Bimaran reliquary



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Tiles showing Richard and Salah-ad-Din

These floor tiles were found at Chertsey Abbey in Surrey. The tiles depict a vigorous display of valour: the English king Richard I (reigned 1189-99) slaying the Ayyubid Sultan Salah-ad-Din (1138-93) with his lance. In fact, although Richard and Salah-ad-Din were famous adversaries during the Third Cruisade (1189-92), Richard never killed Salah-ad-Din. The scene is a dramatic invention and was clearly intended to act as a tribute to Richard’s bravery in battle.
Sword from the armoury of Tipu Sultan (1750-99)

Tipu Sultan was the Muslim ruler of the south Indian state of Mysore (now part of Karnataka state) from 1782. Known as “the Tiger of Mysore”, this powerful ruler was able to play the opposing forces of the British East India Company, the French and the Marathas off against each other in the last quarter of the XVIII century.
Gold dagger handle

In ancient China gold was not as prestigious as jade or bronze. It was mainly used for decorative purposes, such as inlay or coating on bronze or lacquer objects, and only very rarely for creating the objects themselves. In the Eastern Zhou period (771-221 BC), however, gold began to be used on a larger scale. Gold-working still relied to a great extent on well-established bronze technology such as casting objects using moulds.
Quilted cotton horse armour

In the armies of the great African empires south of the Sahara, such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Hausa and Kanem-Bornu, horses were equipped with heavy quilted cotton garments. In full battle armour the horse would also have worn chainmail or pieces of leather across the flanks. A chamfron (headpiece) of metal and cloth completed the outfit. These colourful horses did not always go into battle, but sometimes acted as bodyguards for the commander in the field. The armour was also worn at grand military parades/ Today these fabulous costumes are worn only on ceremonial occasions.
Bronze aquamanile

Aquamaniles (from the Latin aqua meaning “water” and manus meaning “hand”) are ewers specifically made for washing hands. They were an importanat piece of secular tableware at the dining tables of the wealthy. Regular hand-washing during meals was necessary since the majority of people in the medieval period ate with their fingers.
Enamelled bronze pan

This decorated pan (trulla) would originally have had a handle and base, which are both missing. Like the helmet on the previous page, this is evidence of the Roman army in Britain. Below the rim is an inscription inlaid with enamel that encircles the pan: MAIS (Bowness-on-Solway) COGGOBATA (Drumburgh) VXELODVNVM (Stanwix) CAMMOGLANNA (Castlesteads) RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS.
Cavalry sports helmet

In 1796 a clogmaker’s son, playing behind his house in Ribchester, Lancashire, discovered a mass of corroded metalwork. It turned out to be a hoard of Roman military equipment, mainly for use in cavalry sports.
Bronze hoplite helmet

This ancient Greek helmet was captured in a battle between two city-states, Argos and Corinth, and was dedicated by the winners to the Greek god Zeus at his sanctuary at Olympia.
Black-figured amphora

This Greek amphora (wine-jar) shows the moment when Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors, kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, during the Trojan War. Achilles’ face is masked and protected by his helmet, contrasting with Penthesilea, whose helmet is pushed back to expose her features and emphasize her vulnerability. Her spear passes harmlessly across Achilles’ chest, while his pierces her throat and draws blood. According to a later version of the story, at this very moment the eyes of the two warriors met and, too late, they fell in love.
Set of Samurai armour

This suit of Japanese armour brings together parts made at different times and is one of the most popular exhibits in the Museum.The earliest Japanese sets of armour were developed during the Heian period (794-1185) to protect mounted samurai warriors against arrows. The armour was designed to be flexible and gave protection without compromising the ability to move easily during battle.