Mail (chainmail)

Sloping guard copy - YT

↑ I am , so to speak, ‘linking’ to the past.

One of the longest serving armours in all of history, it dates from the ancient Celts and is still used for items like butchering gloves and shark bite resistant gear to this very day! Chainmail armour consists of metal links (usually iron) woven together in a similar fashion to chains, except with each ring fitting into at least four other rings (except in expansion/contraction points, like ‘darts’ in clothing).

The armour uses the main qualities of tough metal to great effect, these being structural integrity to prevent penetration and smooth surfaces to deflect objects away, which in the context of maille armour means that sharp weapons with even the finest edges cannot slice it open. By the strength of its weave, it absorbs strikes and distributes force amongst its length, though it should be worn with padding underneath to avoid chafing and ensure blunt impact resistance.


One should never underestimate the adaptability and flexibility of chainmaille, as it is one of very few types of metal armour that can cove areas like the armpits, elbows and knees due to the rings each being solid and unbending, yet pivoting and hinging freely on each other to make an overall exceptionally flexible garment. Only the weight hinders movement and full unrestricted bodily movement should be expected.

Historically in Europe, maille was used either on its own in items such as hauberk (shirts) and chausses (trousers) or in sections such as aventails and voiders to cover areas exposed by other more rigid types of armour such as plate and brigandine. In all known cases, the mail rings were riveted shut or featured a mixture of both riveted and solid rings. In further Eastern nations such as Japan, butted rings featuring simple splits to open and close rings during manufacture are known, but it is noteworthy that from my experience these often seem to be smaller and finer rings and also usually attached as part of other forms of armour rather than making entire garments which contrasts with the European counterparts.