Suits you Sir - Norfolk man adopts knight’s armour and weapons

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADL

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Norwich Castle's innovative adopt-an-object scheme has helped one man kit himself out as a 15th century knight

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADL

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Men of a certain age can be notoriously difficult to buy gifts for. Socks? Chocolate? Beer? Bollock dagger? A what? A bollock dagger. Or at least an adoption certificate for a historic bollock, or kidney, dagger.

David Balfour has a virtual set of medieval armour and weaponry via Norwich Castle's Keep Adopting scheme. Just like the schemes where people adopt endangered animals at zoos or rescued ponies at sanctuaries, the items remain on display at the museum, but the adopter gets special access and recognition.

David began with a bollock dagger - a short weapon, used in battle alongside swords but also carried by everyone from peasants to knights and used as knives.

Next, his daughter adopted a poleaxe for him as a father's day gift. It would have been used in battle, with a blade to cut through armour, a wicked-looking hammer and spikes, and a long handle to block an attack.

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADL

The medieval bollock dagger adopted by David Balfour at Norwich Castle Museum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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David's daughter went on to adopt him a bascinet helmet for Christmas - an extremely rare knight's helmet, dating back to the early 1400s, which was discovered on Mousehold Heath.

'Once I had got that I thought I might as well get a breastplate as well as it is also 15th century!' said David, 66, a retired science teacher, who lives near Stalham, and has loved history since he was a schoolboy himself.

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David's latest adoptive acquisition is a 15th century breastplate, made in Italy and unearthed near Norwich in 1856. As the sole, or gold, adopter of the breastplate he was invited to the Castle, with a small group of family and friends, to meet the curators of some of its medieval and Viking treasures. He was also treated to a medieval weaponry session with expert Lee Warden.

'We thoroughly enjoyed the day,' said David.

Every adoption includes an invitation to visit the adopted object, plus a certificate, photograph, an acknowledgment on the Castle's Adopt an Object website and an invitation to revisit the Castle when the keep reopens in 2021, to view their adopted artefacts in a new medieval gallery.

Prices range from £25 to £750 with some objects allocated to just one adopter while others are shared between several. The money goes towards conserving exhibits, creating new displays and developing special events.

Norwich Castle keep is being restored to its Norman heyday with lost floors and rooms reinstated to reveal one of medieval Europe's most sophisticated castles. For the first time in 900 years visitors will be able to explore all five levels from basement to battlements.

For more information visit adoptanobject.co.uk

museums.norfolk.gov.uk

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