These incredible photographs taken by photographer Thom Atkninson offer a fascinating insight into how warfare and soldiers inventories have changed since 1066, dating back to the Battle of Hastings. It might come as a surprise that even way back then soldiers still had an impressive selection of weapons and equipment at their disposal.
1066 huscarl, Battle of Hastings
This is what the equipment of an Anglo-Saxon Warrior at the Battle of Hastings would have looked like. The choice of weapons available to the soldiers at the time was extensive.
1244 mounted knight, Siege of Jerusalem
In order to achieve these shots photographer Thom Atkninson enlisted the help of collectors, re-enactment groups and historians, as well as still serving soldiers for the more recent equipment.
‘It was hard to track down knowledgeable people with the correct equipment,’ he says. ‘The pictures are really the product of their knowledge and experience.’
1415 fighting archer, Battle of Agincourt
Having worked with the Welcome Trust and Natural History Museum before, Atkinson has decided to turn his focus to what he describes as ‘the mythology surrounding Britain’s relationship with war’.
1485 Yorkist man-at-arms, Battle of Bosworth
‘There’s a spoon in every picture,’ says Atkinson. ‘I think that’s wonderful. The requirement of food, and the experience of eating, hasn’t changed in 1,000 years. It’s the same with warmth, water, protection, entertainment.’
1588 trainband caliverman, Tilbury
The similarities between the kits are just as incredible as the differences. Once used notepads have become iPads, and 18th-century bowls look just like modern mess tins.
1645 New Model Army musketeer, Battle of Naseby
The project was a lesson for Atkinson over the 9 months that it took to complete. ‘I’ve never been a soldier. It’s difficult to look in on a subject like this and completely understand it. I wanted it to be about people. Watching everything unfold, I begin to feel that we really are the same creatures with the same fundamental needs.’
1709 private sentinel, Battle of Malplaquet
1815 private soldier, Battle of Waterloo
The kit that was issued to soldiers that fought in the Battle of Waterloo included a pewter tankard and a draughts set.
1854 private soldier, Rifle Brigade, Battle of Alma
Each one of these pictures has a common theme within them. They always feature the hooks on which humanity hangs: letter paper, prayer books and Bibles.
1916 private soldier, Battle of the Somme
The First World War can be seen as the first modern era war, as the kit above illustrates. Despite this the kit was still primitive as along side more modern kit soldiers were still issued with medieval style weapons such as the 'trench club'.
1944 lance corporal, Parachute Brigade, Battle of Arnhem
Each picture shows the formal and essential kit that every soldier was required to have, whilst also revealing a more personal side with items such as timepieces, crucifixes, combs and shaving brushes.
1982 Royal Marine Commando, Falklands conflict
The photos reveal the literal burden that soldiers would have to carry around with them as they entered into battle.
2014 close-support sapper, Royal Engineers, Helmland Province
The evolution of technology has been an accelerator in the process of modernising warfare, particulary over the past century which is evident by this photo series; the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle has been replaced by laser-sighted light assault carbines; and lightweight camouflage Kevlar vests take the place of khaki woollen Pattern service tunics.