Piedmont Pagan Pride Day

Community Spotlight: Captive Links

Chainmail Then and Now

The phrase “chain mail” conjures many different images in people’s minds, from noble knights in Medieval times to divers facing sharks in the tropics. The uses for this seemingly simple mesh of metal rings are almost endless. The past and the present are slowly changing how views and uses of this ingenious mesh will be used in the future.

To know how chain mail will affect our community we must first define some terms that any quick Google search will produce. How do you spell chainmail? Chain mail? Chainmaille? Chainmail is the traditionally correct way to spell the ancient art of linking metal rings together to form a protective barrier from your enemies. In this day and age, however, “chainmaille” is becoming more popular. The French influenced spelling helps internet users find this exquisite jewelry art form more readily. And really it just looks so much cooler! As for chainmail? Well, that type of letter should just end up in your spam folder!

A blue and black chainmaille earring.

A blue and black chainmaille earring.

In ancient times, (we are talking Neolithic here), conflicts between two groups were settled mainly at close range man to man. Fertile river valleys and the rise of agriculture lead to a population explosion, which in turn, lead to conflicts and the eventual need for armor. Slowly advancements of metal working in the Age of Iron allowed for a” carburized, or steel like iron,” that enabled cultures like the Assyrians to refine scale like armor into mail shirts. Interlocking rings that make up chainmail quickly found their way in many forms from Japan to Europe. There were two possible methods of producing the rings for the mail. Closed rings were made by punching them from a sheet of metal with a double punch, or by simply punching a hole in a piece of metal and trimming the outside edge. Open rings were usually made from iron wire. There has been (and still is) much controversy as to whether the ancient armorer knew the art of wire-drawing. What historians do know is that as early as the time of Charlemagne chainmail was in demand. Charlemagne built his armies under strict guidelines. In 805 he demanded that any mounted soldier who owned 300 acres of land or more bring a full tunic of chainmail. This

Interlocking rings that make up chainmail quickly found their way in many forms from Japan to Europe. There were two possible methods of producing the rings for the mail. Closed rings were made by punching them from a sheet of metal with a double punch, or by simply punching a hole in a piece of metal and trimming the outside edge. Open rings were usually made from iron wire. There has been (and still is) much controversy as to whether the ancient armorer knew the art of wire-drawing. What historians do know is that as early as the time of Charlemagne chainmail was in demand. Charlemagne built his armies under strict guidelines. In 805 he demanded that any mounted soldier who owned 300 acres of land or more bring a full tunic of chainmail. This mail tunic often covered a soldier’s knees and was split at the side for easier movement. Mil was even mentioned in Anglo-Saxon laws by the 7th century. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the mail tunic would slowly see its replacement by plate mail by the 14th century in response to the rise of the cross bow. The defense that mail gave to the medieval knight was largely based on large slashes from a sword. Mail armor could not stand up to piercing weapons like those inflicted by an arrow. Today medieval knights only run around in historical reenactments, but chainmail is far from dead. Butchers and wood workers often wear steel mesh to protect their hands and arms from accidental knife wounds. “Filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test shark suits in 1979 while diving with sharks.” Artist now

Silver and Blue Flower Chainmaille Bracelet

Silver and Blue Flower Chainmaille Bracelet

Today medieval knights only run around in historical reenactments, but chainmail is far from dead. Butchers and wood workers often wear steel mesh to protect their hands and arms from accidental knife wounds. “Filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test shark suits in 1979 while diving with sharks.” Artists now use lightweight aluminum rings dyed in bright colors, or even rubber rings to create beautiful jewelry. Technology that once was developed to protect a warrior from death in war can now celebrate life in vivid colors. In whatever patterns, you put your rings into, whether it is in an armor 4 in 1 pattern or an elegant byzantine, remember chainmail has had a long history and will evolve into new forms to suit human kind.


Amy Reed found her passion for chainmaille jewelry recently after a day of cleaning out her ever-overflowing craft room. There, in a small box nested inside a larger one, situated under a table, was a small packet of aluminum rings. She was reborn in the glow of her computer while researching chainmaille jewelry. Small rings joined in new exciting ways formed almost magical bonds, and she was hooked. This form of creation was relaxing and kept her interest, and she found herself telling anyone that would listen about this medium. That was when Captive Link Creations was born!

Captive Link Creations is on Facebook and Etsy and is owned by Amy Reed. She and her wonderful creations will be at Piedmont Pagan Pride Day 2017 in our vendor area.

For sources for Amy’s description of the history of chainmail, please see below.


Ferrill, A. 1985.the Origins Of War From The Stone Age To Alexander The Great. London, England:Thames and Hudson. pg39

Phillips, C. 2010. The World of The Medieval Knight. London, England: Hermes House. pg25

Wise, T.1979. Men at Arms Sason, Viking, and Norman.Great Britain: Ospre Publishing. pg15

Turnbull, S. 1985. The Book Of the medieval Knight. New York, U.S.A: Crown Publishers inc. pg42

Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_(armour

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