Robert Woosnam-Savage


Bob Woosnam-Savage, read Art History at the University of Manchester (1978-81) and gained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Art Gallery and Museum Studies (1982) before becoming an Associate of the Museums Association (1988).

He has worked at the Royal Armouries since 1997 and been a Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries since 2001, becoming Curator of Armour and Edged Weapons in 2017. He was previously Curator of European Arms and Armour at Glasgow (1983-97) and whilst there curated the major exhibition commemorating the 250th anniversary of the ’45, Bonnie Prince Charlie: Fact and Fiction (1995-6).

His interest in battlefield and conflict archaeology led to him becoming, from 2004, part of the research team brought together by the National Trust for Scotland to work on the Culloden Battlefield Memorial Project, which opened in 2008. During 2010 he identified a fragment of a sword-hilt which helped successfully confirm and identify the site of the battle of Bosworth (1485).

Since 2004 he has co-led a number of highly successful tours of castles in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the Post–Congress section of the International Medieval Congresses organised by the University of Leeds.

An historical consultant on a number of movies including Rob Roy (1995) and Robin Hood (2010) his love of movies and arms and armour came together when he co-curated (with Sir Richard Taylor) the highly acclaimed Royal Armouries exhibition Arms & Armour from the Movies: The Wonderful World of Weta (2008). This has led to a successful strand of collecting within the museum relating to arms and armour in the movies, a notable acquisition being Lancelot’s armour from Excalibur (1981).

Between 2010 -16 he sat on the Executive Board of the International Committee for Museums of Arms and Military history (ICOMAM) and was made a Visiting Researcher at the University of Leeds in 2016. He was involved in the major 600th anniversary exhibition The Battle of Agincourt, held at HM The Tower of London (2015). Following this, he was the lead Curator in the re-display of medieval arms and armour 1300-1500 in the Leeds museum, which included a major section on arms and armour of the Hundred Years’ War (2016).

Since 2012 he has been the Project Weapons Expert for the University of Leicester ‘Search for Richard III’ Archaeological Team (as well as part of the Search Team on the ‘Greyfriars Project’), which has been studying the skeleton of Richard III (‘the king under the car park’) since its discovery. He was employed to help find and examine the weapons trauma on the skeleton and attempt to identify the various types of weapons that may have been used to make them, using both historical and archaeological evidence, which aided in the successful identification of the skeleton as that of Richard III. This has resulted in numerous presentations to both professional institutions and amateur groups around the world and a co-authored article ‘Perimortem Trauma in King Richard III: a Skeletal Analysis’, appearing in The Lancet (2015) and the book, The Bones of a King: Richard III Rediscovered (2015).

He has published on a wide range of subjects including the arms and armour of Uccello’s paintings, medieval children’s swords, the castles of Edward I, the arms and armour of The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy, the battle of Culloden and medieval battle trauma. Most recently he has written Arms and Armour of Late Medieval Europe (2017) and on Anglo-Saxon and Norman weapons in 1066 in Perspective (2018).

In 2018 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Currently he sits on the advisory board of the Warhorse: The Archaeology of a Military Revolution? project and research projects includes the so-called sword of Henry V at Westminster Abbey and the myth of knights being hoisted on to their horses by cranes. He is also part of the Canterbury Cathedral team examining the shield of the Black Prince.

Research interests

Medieval arms and armour; Scottish arms and armour; Medieval military architecture; Castles and fortifications; Battlefield and conflict archaeology; Medieval battle trauma; Medievalism; Representations of the medieval world in film; the Jacobites.



Arms and Armour of Late Medieval Europe, Leeds: Royal Armouries, 2017 

The Bones of a King: Richard III Rediscovered (The Greyfriars Research Team with Maev Kennedy and Lynn Foxhall), Chichester: Wiley & Blackwell, 2015

1745: Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites, (ed.), Glasgow Museums/ HMSO/ National Army Museum: Glasgow, 1995

Articles and Book Chapters

‘The Weapons of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans’, in Bates, David (ed.), 1066 in Perspective, Leeds: Royal Armouries, 2018. pp. 57-78

'Battle Trauma in Medieval Warfare: Wounds, Weapons and Armor’ (with Kelly DeVries), in Tracy, Larissa and Kelly DeVries (eds.), Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture, Brill: Leiden, 2015, pp. 27-56

 ‘”All Kinds of weapons...": the Weapons of Agincourt’ in Curry, Ann E and Malcolm Mercer (eds.), The Battle of Agincourt, London: Yale 2015, pp. 138-154

'"Olivier’s Henry V (1944); How a movie defined the image of the battle of Agincourt for generations', in Curry, Ann E and Malcolm Mercer (eds.), The Battle of Agincourt, London: Yale 2015, pp. 250-262

'"Agincourt, Agincourt! Know Ye Not Agincourt"' in Colau, Jean-François (ed.), D’Azincourt à Marignan: Chevaliers et Bombardes, Paris: Éditions Gallimard / Livres d'art, 2015, pp. 126-135

'Perimortem Trauma in King Richard III: a Skeletal Analysis', (together with Jo Appleby, Guy N. Rutty, Sarah V Hainsworth, et al), The Lancet, Volume 385, Number 9964, January 17-23, 2015, pp. 253-59 (Published online 17 September 2014; )

'The Matériel of Middle-earth: Arms and Armour in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy' in Bogstad, Janice M and Philip E Kaveny (eds.), Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy, Jefferson: North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2011, pp. 139-67

'The Castles of Edward I in Wales’ in Rogers, Clifford (ed.), Medieval Warfare and Military Technology: an Encyclopedia, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, Vol. 3, pp. 446-49

'"To Gather an Image Whole": Some Early maps and Plans of the Battle of Culloden' in Pollard, Tony (ed.), Culloden: The History and Archaeology of the Last Clan Battle, Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Military, 2009, pp. 163-86

'"He’s Armed Without that’s Innocent Within" A Short Note on a newly Acquired Medieval Sword for a Child', Arms & Armour: Journal of the Royal Armouries, Vol. 5, Number 1, 2008, pp. 84-95

'Medieval movie mayhem: Excalibur', Medieval History 3, November 2003, pp. 60-63

'Reality or Fairy Tale? Arms and Armour in Uccello’s San Romano Battle Paintings', The 18th Park Lane Arms Fair [Catalogue], London, 2001, pp. 10-18

Other publications

Book Review: ‘Ceremonial Swords of Britain: State and Civic Swords’ in Arms & Armour: Journal of the Royal Armouries, Vol. 14. No. 2, 2017, pp. 223-4

Contributions in Rimer, Graeme, Thom Richardson and JPD Cooper (eds.), Henry VIII Arms and the Man 1509-2009, Leeds: Royal Armouries Museum, 2009


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>