Full Version: Turning Key Fasteners on Newstead Segmentata
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Regarding the lateral fastening slots on Newstead-style segmentata breastplates -- my understanding is that the current hypothesis for the male connector is a "turning key". I seem to recall reading that A) this type of connection is known from another type of armour, possibly cavalry parade/sports armour; and B) [strike](I am less certain about this one) More recently an example of such a fastener connected to a segmentata plate has been found.[/strike] In 1906 at Zugmantel a piece tentatively identified as a Newstead-style backplate was found to have a pierced mounting plate consistent with a "turning pin" fastener. (Bishop's Lorica Segmentata, Volume I)

Assuming the above is essentially correct, I have two questions which I am hoping RAT can answer. (Otherwise, please correct my mistakes!)

1. Has there been more than one find of a turning key attached to something conclusively identified as a segmentata plate?


2. Was it possible to determine if the plate(s) were backplates and/or breastplates? (and if so, which was it?)

If there is any unpublished material and/or unfinished research which may be relevant to these questions, please identify it. Naturally, I am not asking anyone to make preliminary statements or guesses on the results of such work, simply to identify that the research may be relevant.

Thank you very much for your input.
I shall assume that your silence means there has been no other finds of turning pins associated with segmentata.
haha sorry buddy, no idea... :-?
There are certainly known examples of the 'turning key' method of fastening on chest plates from cavalry armour (or, at least, that is what it is assumed to be). One find (from Carnuntum - or perhaps Bregetio) shows the two chest plates, one of which has circular holes and the other with long rectangular slots. These can only really be explained through the use of the flat 'turning key' closure arrangement. Another plate (formerly in the Guttmann collection) shows the same slot arrangement.Yet a third example (illustrated in Marcus Junkelmann's book "Reiter wie Statuen aus Erz") actually shows a plate (again from Carnuntum) with one of the keys in situ. He also shows four examples of the keys on their own.

Turning to the Newstead type of lorica segmentata, the recent find from Carlisle showed a back plate with two rectangular holes, each surrounded by a brass trim. Another plate (also from Carlisle but from an earlier excavation) had a similar arrangement. Both the Newstead armour plates from Carlisle have been identified as being back plates. Two of the armour fragments that came from Newstead itself have been identified as being a breast and a back plate, respectively. The former has the pair of rectangular slots surrounded by the brass trim while the latter shows only one such slot (but is more incomplete).

However, it has to be said that - apart from the 'cavalry' equipment - there does not seem to be as far as I can see, any known example of a 'turning key' as such actually attached to a Newstead armour plate. It's difficult to imagine what else these could be, except the places where the turning keys would have fitted. Also, the cavalry armour certainly shows that this system was employed. Logically, it would seem that it is very likely to have been applied to the Newstead lorica segmentata, especially given the presence of those rectangular slots on the inside edges of the plates.

Mike Thomas
Thanks for the excellent summary, Mike! One question, however - the cavalry armour you describe, is it typical "field kit" or "parade armour"? (or maybe that entire question is invalid?)

With regards to the rectangular slots and the question of "what else could they be for?" -- I was wondering if they could not simply use the same attachment method as the stillfried girth hoops. This idea is even mentioned (very briefly) as a possibility in Bishop's Lorica Segmentata volume 1.

The main reason that I was pondering this is that such an attachment seems highly impractical for functional armour - as confirmed by the experience of some reenactors, the pins tend to work themselves loose, letting the plates separate at inopportune moments. This can be remedied by using a split pin to keep the key from pulling out, but if you're going to keep things held together with a split pin anyways, why bother to make the fixture turn at all?

As has been pointed out by many people wiser than myself, "common sense" is not a reliable guide to historical reconstructions. After all, the practical utility of the hinges on segmentatae shoulder sections is somewhat dubious, but there can be no doubt about their continued and widespread usage.

However, examining Lorica Segmentata Volume 2 reveals that there have been several finds of Newstead-style tie loops with a "round" shank, so the possibility that the male fitting was similar to a girth plate tie loop does not seem to be inconsistent with the pierced plate from Zugmantel.

Just my 2 cents...