Testing of the reconstructed Avar-period chest armour from Kunszentmárton.

About the measurements of the lacing materials, the laced structure and

the efficiency of the armour in cavalry attacks

Hortsin Tamás – Magyar András

Hadak útján. A népvándorláskor fiatal kutatóinak XXIV. konferenciája. Esztergom, 2014. november 4–6. Conference of young scholars on the Migration Period. November 4–6, 2014, Esztergom

MŐT Kiadványok 3.1 (2015) 513–527

DOI 10.55722/Arpad.Kiad.2015.3.1_21


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A dolgozatban bemutatjuk azt a felkészülési és tesztfolyamatot, amellyel a kunszent-mártoni páncéllelet egyfajta rekonstrukcióját vizsgáltuk: lovas támadásnak vetettünk alá egy előre- és hátrahajolni és törzsben megfordulni képes tesztbábura szerelt tesztvértet. A teszt ered-ményei azt mutatják, hogy amennyiben a lamellák ívei befelé néznek, támadás esetén sem tör-ténik meg a vért felületének nagyarányú megbontása úgy, hogy az a továbbiakban ne töltse be védőfunkcióját.

Kulcsszavak: Kárpát-medence, Kunszentmárton, avar kor, lamellás páncél, lovas harcos rekonstrukció


The theory presented at the 20th conference entitled “Hadak útjánˮ (On the Path of War) and also included in the conference proceedings raised the necessity of testing the “armour of Kunszent-márton” in practice. Even though definitive or irrefutable results cannot be provided, there is cer-tainly room for relevant professional observations. Our aim was to prove – not just on the theoret-ical level – that the Avar armour, which is made of lamellae arching toward the centre, not only provided adequate protection against arrows, but against lance-wielding cavalry too.

Before creating a device suited to achieve our goal, three points had to be drawn up in order to ensure that the task is realized in a professionally sound manner: (1) The material of the lamel-lae had to be analyzed; (2) possible lacing materials and their bearing capacity had to be tested; (3) the interrelationship between the lamellae and the lacing materials had to be examined. We worked with the following lacing materials: wool, hemp, “wet” and dry guts, leather, silk cord and woven hemp.

The test was performed on a tensometer, which recorded the results in a diagram. The coor-dinate system indicated the distance (mm) and the force of pulling (N). Fifty-four measurements were carried out and analyzed using this method. The values shown in the charts clearly indi-cate the differences in the tensile strength of the materials. Measurements carried out on lamella lacing also include averages, since with regard to armours these are clearly significant pieces of statistical information which can be used in comparisons. The test armour consisted of 220 indi-vidual lamellae and its total weight was 4.434 kilograms. The inward-facing arcs created a scaly-looking surface. For comparison I also present the possibility of using two different lacing meth-ods as seen in the armours kept at the Museum of Local History in Kunszentmárton, both of which are on display and available for wearing.

The test that required a horse was conducted at two locations, in Miskolc (March 2011) and Szeged (July 2011). A weight-controlled dummy substituted for the warrior in Szeged and a spring-controlled one in Miskolc. The test was recorded with a camera of 600 frames/s perfor-mance, which enabled the use of extensive slowing of the recording and the subsequent analysis of the dummies’ movements. By means of this test we were not only able to observe the behav-ior of the armour at the impact points but all other conditions and circumstances as well. In addi-tion, the recording also shows us that a horseman is capable of transferring a much larger amount of energy than a foot soldier. The interaction of the armour and the protective clothing under-neath could clearly be observed. The plates and lacing work together as springs and the protec-tive clothing reduces the force of the impact even further.