History & Mission

The Oakeshott Institute’s mission is to promote the interest in ancient arms and armor through a hands-on educational approach.

The Oakeshott Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established by Christopher Poor in 2000. The Institute is named after the late Ewart Oakeshott, a leading authority on European arms and armor. Ewart spent a lifetime researching and collecting swords. His collection, now entrusted to The Oakeshott Institute, contains more than 75 pieces and spans nearly 4000 years of history including a sword from the First Crusade and a Scandinavian sword from the Bronze Age.

The Oakeshott Institute’s President, Christopher Poor, owns Arms & Armor, a business specializing in the replication of historic artifacts. He first met Ewart Oakeshott on a research trip to London in 1985. Their mutual passion for medieval armor led to a deep and lasting friendship.

As the relationship grew, Ewart and his wife, Sybil Marshall, expressed concern that when they were gone his life-long collection would be auctioned off, or worse, scattered and lost. Ewart was always delighted to share his boundless knowledge and his amazing collection. Sybil, an innovative educator, lecturer and novelist, shared his enthusiasm for learning and also collected artifacts. At their request, The Oakeshott Institute was conceived, and a trust was established to carry forward their love of ancient artifacts and the educational opportunities they present.

It was extremely important to Ewart and Sybil that the collection be available to future students, not just as relics behind glass but as living pieces of history. Ewart firmly believed that to truly experience the sword one needed to touch it. He would say “a sword is a sad, lifeless object – but hold it in your hands and it comes to life!” A major goal in forming the Institute was to provide a space where both scholars and the public could share in the unique experience of interacting with historical pieces.

Ewart Oakeshott died in 2002 at the age of 86. Sybil Marshall passed away three years later, at the age of 91. But their legacy lives on through the work and efforts of The Oakeshott Institute.

The Vision of Ewart & Sybil