Roman Britain helmet fetches 2.3 mln pounds

Thu Oct 7, 2010 9:46am EDT
 
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By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A spectacular Roman cavalry helmet that entirely covers the face and would have shone in the sunlight has been sold at Christie's for 2.3 million pounds ($3.67 million), 10 times its estimate.

The almost complete, two-piece copper-alloy helmet that would have been worn for sporting events rather than warfare, dates from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

It was found by an enthusiast with a metal detector in Cumbria, northwest England in May.

Experts say it is one of only three comparable examples to have been found in Britain in the last 250 years and a highly significant discovery. It was bought by an unidentified bidder.

It depicts an idealized youthful male face, with a thick mop of curly hair. The face mask has traces of a white highly polished metal coating that would have shone brightly when it caught the light.

Antiquarians say the mask would have contrasted strikingly with the hair and peculiar Phrygian cap both made of bronze. The cap is adorned with an elaborately carved winged griffin with its right paw raised and resting on an amphora.

The helmet was found by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous, near a Roman road in the village of Crosby Garrett.

Archaeologists speculate it could have been buried as loot, as a votive offering or to accompany a body.   Continued...

 
<p>Roman cavalry helmet found in a village in Cumbria, northwest England is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>