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Robert Woosnam-Savage

Bob Savage is Curator of Armour and Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Robert C Woosnam-Savage, AMA, read Art History at the University of Manchester (1978-81) and gained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Art Gallery and Museum Studies (1982).

He has worked at the Royal Armouries since 1997 and been a Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries Museum since 2001, becoming Curator of Armour and Edged Weapons in 2017.

Robert was Curator of European Arms and Armour at Glasgow Museums (1983-97) and whilst there co-authored (with Claude Blair) Scottish Firearms (1995). He also curated the major 1995-6 UK touring exhibition commemorating the 250th anniversary of the ’45, Bonnie Prince Charlie: Fact and Fiction, which was also shown at the National Army Museum, London, and was the editor of the accompanying book 1745: Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites (1995). Other works published include a number of articles ranging from the arms and armour of Uccello’s paintings to Scottish long-guns and medieval children’s swords.

His interest in battlefield and conflict archaeology led to his heavy involvement, from 2004, as one of the research team brought together by the National Trust for Scotland to work on the Culloden Battlefield Memorial Project, which successfully opened in 2008. This interest in the Jacobites and Culloden continued with the publication of the chapter ‘To Gather an Image Whole: some early maps and battle plans of the battle of Culloden’ in Culloden: The history and archaeology of the last clan battle (ed. Tony Pollard, 2009), the definitive book of the battle. 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. His interest in castles led to him being asked to contribute an entry on the Welsh Castles of Edward I to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare & Military Technology (2010).

Robert Woosnam-Savage has been a historical consultant on a number of movies including Rob Roy (1995) and more recently Robin Hood (2010). His love of movies and arms and armour came together when he also co-curated (with Sir Richard Taylor) the highly successful Royal Armouries exhibition Arms & Armour from the Movies: The Wonderful World of Weta (2008). This has led to a highly successful strand of collecting within the museum relating to arms and armour in the movies. Notable recent acquisitions have included the Lord Marshal’s armour from The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) and Lancelot’s armour from Excalibur (1981). A chapter about the arms and armour of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy appeared later in Picturing Tolkien: Film and Fiction (2011).

Between 2010-16 Robert was elected to sit 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 has taught the module ‘Conflict and War in the Late Middle Ages: Prevention, Execution, Rhetoric’ (MEDV 3530) – Arms and the Man –The Material Culture of War: Arms, Armour, Castles Sieges.

He was involved in the object selection for the major 600th anniversary exhibition The Battle of Agincourt (2015), held at HM The Tower of London (2015) and also wrote two chapters in the accompanying book, The Battle of Agincourt (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).

Robert Woosnam-Savage is 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 giving 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 most recently co-authored ‘Battle Trauma in Medieval Warfare: Wounds, Weapons and Armor’ in Wounds and Wound Repair in Medieval Culture (2015), and, for the Royal Armouries, Arms and Armour of Late Medieval Europe (2017).

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