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Philip Lankester

Philip Lankester is Curator Emeritus of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries.

After a degree in Estate Management, after which I qualified and briefly worked as a Chartered Surveyor, I was amazingly fortunate to be able to return to academia to study for an MA in European Art History at the Courtauld Institute, specializing in the Middle Ages. Taking a realistic look at the job market, I decided to study for a diploma in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at Manchester University rather than pursue further full time research, and from there I moved to my first museum job with Glasgow Museums, where I looked after the military collections. After three years I made another change, moving to what was then the Council for the Care of Churches (now the Church Buildings Council) to administer advice on and grants for the conservation of church furnishings. These included funerary monuments: for some years I had been developing an interest in monumental effigies.

Tiring of too much administration and too little contact with actual historic buildings and objects, I moved again in 1986 to work in the Edged Weapons Department at the Royal Armouries where I remained until I took early retirement in 2008, having moved with the collection from the Tower of London to Leeds in 1995.

I now live in York and work part time as a freelance consultant on European arms, armour and related subjects. I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2000 and am currently an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at the University of York. Apart from medieval tomb sculpture, my recent research interests have concentrated on British military and civilian swords of the 18th and 19th centuries.


  • (with John Blair and Jeffrey West) ‘A Transitional Cloister Arcade at Haughmond Abbey, Shropshire’, Medieval Archaeology, Vol.24, 1980, pp. 211-213
  • (with Margaret Scott) ‘An Interim List of Scottish “Lowland” Effigies down to 1560’, Glasgow Archaeological Society Bulletin, new ser., No.12, Autumn 1981, pp. [3-10]
  • ‘A Military Effigy at Dorchester Abbey, Oxon.’, Oxoniensia, Vol.52, 1987, pp. 145-171
  • ‘A Basket-Hilted Sword marked “AC” in the Royal Armouries’, Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, Vol. 13, Supplement, Sept. 1990, pp. 34-57
  • ‘Two Lost Effigial Monuments in Yorkshire and the Evidence of Church Notes’, Church Monuments, Vol. 8, 1993, pp. 27-44
  • ‘Notes on some Scottish Silver-Hilted Swords and related Swords’, Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, Vol. 14, No. 5, March 1994, pp. 268-315
  • (with Graeme Rimer) ‘A 19th-Century Chest of Arms’, Royal Armouries Yearbook, No. 3, 1998, pp. 77-108
  • ‘Two Maces from Henry VIII’s arsenal?’ Royal Armouries Yearbook, No. 5, 2000, pp. 27-43
    (with Claude Blair and John A. Goodall) ‘The Winchelsea tombs reconsidered’, Church Monuments, Vol. 15 (2000), pp. 5-30
  • “Land Transport Corps Swords” in the Royal Armouries: an interim summary’, Royal Armouries Yearbook, No. 6, 2001 (published 2002), pp. 55-71
  • ‘Storage of Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries, Leeds: a curator’s perspective’, in R.D. Smith, E. Sint Nicolas and P. Sigmond (eds), Behind the scenes at the museum. Stores, Access and its Implications (proceedings of a conference held at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 24-26 January 2001), n.p. [Leeds, etc.; printed in Great Britain], Royal Armouries et al., 2002, pp. 57-68
  • ‘A note on some Partizans with the Tudor Royal Arms in the Royal Armouries’, Royal Armouries Yearbook, 7, 2002 (published 2003), pp. 40-45
  • ‘An Unusual Sword in the Royal Armouries’, Arms and Armour, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004, pp. 43-67
    ‘New light on the partnership of James Woolley and Thomas Deakin’, Arms and Armour, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2004, pp. 159-164
  • “Made by Matchett, engraved by Cottrill”: new light on the manufacture of scabbards in early nineteenth-century Birmingham’ in Acta of the 17th Conference of the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History (12-17 June 2005), n.p. [Ontario, Canada], National Defence, [2006], pp. 90-104
  • ‘The reversed daggers on the Holland monument at Canterbury’, Church Monuments Society Newsletter, Vol. 22, No. 1, Summer 2006, pp. 6-8
  • ‘Samuel Lines of Birmingham and the decoration of sword blades’, Arms & Armour, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2008, pp. 7-68
  • ‘The thirteenth-century military effigies in the Temple Church’ in Robin Griffith-Jones and David Park (eds), The Temple Church in London, Woodbridge, Boydell, 2010, pp. 93-134