The reconstruction of a 14:th century gauntlet


This is a short text about reconstructing a type: 1 gauntlet of the Visby massgrave findings. It is not an exact copy, but a reconstruction of a gauntlet ‘of that type’. Only the right hand gauntlet was found, but Thordeman nevertheless describes it as follows: “All plates have rivets on the outside and were, consequently, fastened to a covering”, which means that all the plates where covered by leather or cloth. Some other gloves in the excavation was thought to have parts covered by leather/cloth and parts riveted onto the leather/cloth. This is not specific to these excavations and other gloves have been found where this has been the case.


Schematic drawing of the gauntlet in question

The reconstruction misses the buckle and has some fancy looking cosmetical plates to some rivets. Also there was no cuff found close to this gauntlet. This can mean that it had no cuff, that the cuff was of a material that perished or that it has gotten lost along with part of one finger. The small strip at the wrist Thordeman thinks “It is possible that they form the transition to a cuff, if such existed. They may also concievably have formed the stiffening of a small cuff.”

I have opted to make them the transition to a cuff and have chosen a stiff full metal cuff as the one found on gauntlet no 10. riveted to the inside of the leather.


Other cuffs of leather, probably with metal reinforcements, from a 1340’s manuscript

The making of the glove was done by firstly getting an inner ‘lining glove’. Thordeman doesn’t think metal was carried next to the skin and I agree. After this an outer glove was made in thicker cowhide. A glove corresponding to the outer part of the inner glove was cut out, leaving the palm free. This was then made soft by soaking in oil (normal run of the mill olive oil). After this the plates was riveted into the outer glove, making sure they could move over each other in the joints. After this was done, the outer layer (with the riveted in metal plates) was sewn onto the inner glove.


The thumb of the glove showing the yellow felt lining between the gloves

To get a little padding a layer of felt was put between the layers. This is really good, because they might be a tad uncomfortable without. The cuff was left unlined though.The round decorations was put on to give them a more fancy look. That is also why I opted for brass rivets. The original have iron rivets all over.


The finished glove, a little beaten up and dirty after some seasons on the battlefield

So… How do they work? They do not have the same flexibility as gauntlets having the plates riveted to the outside. The outer leather doesn’t let the plates move so well and they can feel a bit sluggish in response. On the other hand they don’t crave as much polishing as all parts are covered. Also I used way to small rivet heads and they have eaten through the leather on several places.

This article, written by Johan Käll, was previously published on our old webpage.