How British Soldiers’ Gear Has Changed Over the Last 1,000 Years

Photographer Thom Atkinson traces the evolution of wooden spears to sniper rifles

Huscarl, Battle of Hastings, 1066. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Fighting Archer, Battle of Agincourt, 1415. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Yorkist Man at Arms, Battle of Bosworth, 1485. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Private Sentinel, Battle of Malplaquet, 1709. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Private Soldier, Battle of Waterloo, 1815. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Private Soldier, Battle of the Somme, 1916. Photo: Thom Atkinson
Lance Corporal, Parachute Brigade, Battle of Arnhem, 1944. Photo: Thom Atkinson

Photographer Thom Atkinson recently set out to document 1,000 years of British military history by capturing soldiers' clothing and gear. Atkinson acquired the assembled gear from various historical societies and enthusiasts, including those engaged in modern-day reenactments, Wired reports

Spanning from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and ending in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2013, "Soldiers' Inventories" capture the evolution of war.  

For example, Wired points out that at first, battle outfits were brightly colored for hand-to-hand combat. But as weapons became more sophisticated, killing from a distance—while remaining unseen—became the norm, and camouflage became fashionable. The ways that soldiers entertain themselves have changed from rudimentary chess board to playing cards to iPads. Some objects however, remained unchanged and ever-present over time—such as the spoon. As Atkinson told Wired, "The fact that certain objects recur is more fascinating than the ones that evolve."