Search our objects

Use the tags below, or type a search term to discover artefacts

Comb Morion Helmet

  • Comb Morion

Wealthy Lairds and Border Headmen often wore comb morions as symbols of wealth and power. The term ‘steel bonnet’ is associated with the Reivers due to such head armour.

As open helmets, Morions provided good visibility for Reivers. Visibility was important when riding in the bleak moors and woodland of the borders. Ambushes were common events. Light armour was also vital to assist with stealthy raids and quick escapes.

The Comb Morion was also worn by sixteenth (1500s) century Spanish Conquistadors such as Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) and Francisco Pizzaro (1476-1541), who became warlords and raiders of South America. The native peoples of South America described these troops as Gods, owing to their silver-coloured reflective armour.

The Origins of Reiving

For three hundred years the borderlands of England and Scotland became a warzone. From the late thirteenth century (1200s) to the end of the sixteenth century (1500s) invading Scottish and English armies clashed. A trail of death, destruction and terror was left in their path.

Peace was often temporary and war close by. Border lands constantly changed hands. Edward I’s ruthless invasion of Scotland in 1286 devastated the Scottish lowlands. In 1315 Robert the Bruce attacked Carlisle but was stopped by heroic defenders and appalling Cumbrian weather.

The pattern of invasion, battle, siege and skirmish continued. The two nations clashed at Otterburn in 1388, Flodden in 1513 and on the Solway Moss in 1542. Many peaceful landscapes today were the bloody battlefields of the past.

Life was hard. Survival became the prime instinct. The threat of murder, attacks and starvation hardened people.  The National monarchs of England and Scotland encouraged the people of the border to scout, disrupt and ambush invading armies.

Local families were encouraged to raid across the border to steal livestock and attack property.

In times of national peace the raids continued. Raiding became a way of life. Bands of men rode into the night to steal cattle and horses. The Border area became the home of violent raiders, bandits and robbers. History remembers them as the Border Reivers.

Key facts: 
  • A type of steel helmet worn by leaders of Border Reiver families and Scottish Lairds
  • The Reivers terrorised people living across the English and Scottish Borders in Tudor times. They stole land and livestock and fought with other Reiving families.

Explore related objects