Medieval armouring – a 13th century helm with Graham Ashford

Blacksmithing and metalworking

Ref: SLW11856

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About this course

Make a mid-13th century helm as illustrated throughout the Morgan Bible. You will learn to hot and cold shape the metal and leave either rough from the hammer for waxing, or plain for painting.

Course Description

Learn how to make a mid-13th century helm as illustrated throughout the Morgan Bible. Using these illustrations and cathedral statues as source material, we will work together to recreate a completed helm each. You will learn techniques to hot and cold shape the metal and leave either rough from the hammer for waxing, or leave plain ready for painting.

This course is aimed at beginners or those with some basic metal working skills; introducing everyone to the skills required to size and make a 13th century Helmet seen throughout medieval illuminations such as the Morgan Bible.

The helmet you will be making was the product of an ever evolving response to the changing nature of 12th and 13th century warfare. Made from a series of overlapping, riveted plates with some simple shaping, it is likely the first helmet that is instantly recognisable as medieval and was the jumping off point for many later iconic helmets. The course offers the opportunity fory you to make something truly historical and aesthetically wonderful that once represented the very pinnacle of science and military research.

There are no original versions of these helmets, so we will take a look at sculptures and artworks that depict these helmets, as well as the sample helmet made by the tutor. The course will teach you how to properly shape, planish, clean and fix the plates creating a finished piece any 13th century knight would have been proud to call their own.

Depending upon your skill level, it is hoped that everyone will be able to finish one complete helmet. These helmets were often painted (according to illuminations) so they will be left rough from the hammer to be painted after the course, should you wish to.

To allow for the required skill for the course and to ensure that there is enough time left, some parts of the build involving hand tools like power shears and grinders may be carried out by the tutor.

All tools and materials are provided by the College.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • All fuel costs and metal required for the project.
  • 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.

What students need to bring

  • You will need clothing with long sleeves suitable for workshop use, together with steel toe capped boots, which are mandatory when undertaking a course in the forge. 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.
  • 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.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General art materials


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.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Our Foundation Degree in Metalwork will enhance your employment prospects, give you the skills to set up as a self-employed craftsperson or allow you to continue to higher education. Encompassing both silversmithing and blacksmithing, you will learn practical skills, material properties, placing your work in a broader context and historic metalworking techniques. Find out more

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