The Royal Armouries houses the British national collection of arms and armour. It is the oldest museum in the United Kingdom and one of the oldest museums in the world. The collection is split across three sites:
|Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds)|
|HM Royal Palace and Fortress (London)|
|Fort Nelson (Portsmouth)|
A limited selection of items is also on display in Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States, in cooperation with the Frazier International History Museum.
The collection is as old as the Tower of London, but was not regularly opened to the public until the reign of Charles II in 1660. From the 15th century (and possibly earlier) distinguished visitors were allowed access to the Royal Armouries in the Tower. From the reign of Elizabeth I, a greater range of visitors was permitted to view a collection made up almost entirely of items from the reign of Henry VIII.
Collections now include the Spanish Armoury, which contains instruments of torture and punishment; and the Line of Kings, mounted figures representing English monarchs. The collections contain many trophy weapons from the height of the British Empire.