Introduction to armoury – making a besague with Graham Ashford

Blacksmithing and metalworking

Ref: S1D11696

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About this course

Working in steel, learn how to make a 15th century besague, a highly fashionable, decorative, critical piece of armour using the techniques of dishing and creasing.

Course Description

Besague formed a critical part of the defence of the upper body as medieval armourers sort to protect the shoulder joint and its complex movement. On this one day course you will be shown how to make a single besague by gently dishing the steel and then adding decorative elements though fluting and file work.

Once finished a simple leather tab can be riveted to the back.

This is designed as an introduction to simple steel work as well as armouring as the skills shown in this course are present in almost all armour in one form or another.

By the end of the day, you will have a single besague, and should time allow, you can make a second one.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • All fuel costs and mild steel stocked by the College.
  • Students must wear goggles (provided) and suitable protective clothing for this course. Leather aprons, work gloves, welding gauntlets and goggles can be borrowed from the Forge. Other protective equipment – e.g. welding helmets and ear defenders are also available in the Forge. You may wish to bring any of the above, if you have them.

What students need to bring

  • You will need clothing suitable for workshop use, together with steel toe capped boots. Please note that cotton or wool clothing is preferable to nylon or other synthetics. A pair of cotton jeans is far more protective than a pair of nylon trousers.
  • For your safety it is mandatory to wear steel toe capped safety boots when undertaking a course in the Forge. Students must provide their own footwear and bring them with them to wear on the course. If you fail to bring suitable footwear, you will not be able to take part in the course.
  • Safety boots can be purchased from most tool hire shops and builders merchants as well as online.
  • Protective Clothing Supplied:
  • Leather aprons, work gloves, safety spectacles and ear defenders are provided in the Forge, and suitable protective clothing must be worn.
  • You may wish to bring any of the above, if you have them. If for example you have particularly large or small hands, your own work gloves are likely to be a better fit.
Please note: Your workshop will be in the Forge which is a 10 minute walk from the main house through the walled garden, or can be accessed by car. You should arrive by 9am for registration at the main house, to ensure you can walk/be directed over to the forge at 9.05 for a 9.15am start. Classes are from 9.15am – 5pm As this course is held in the Forge, you will have lunch will be back at the main house, however you will have morning coffee and afternoon tea in the nearby Carrington Studio. Please note that tutor supervision is required at all times when students work in the Forge. The tutor’s instruction on health and safety will include access to and use of the power hammer.


Graham Ashford

A professional armourer since 2008. Graham won a QEST Scholarship apprenticing with Master Armourer David Hewitt at White Rose Armouries for 3 years. Working principally for reenactors, museums and collectors across the world. I have written pieces for historical periodicals and now work from my workshop in Fareham.

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