Found as part of the Hallaton Treasure, the helmet was buried at a native British shrine around the time of the Roman invasion of Britain which began in AD 43. This is a unique helmet which would have been worn by a Roman cavalry officer of high status. Click on the first image below to find out more.
The helmet has been reconstructed by conservators after suffering deterioration during burial. It is made of iron sheet covered with very thin silver-gilt sheet which features beautiful designs on its surfaces created using a hammering technique called repousse.
The decorated silver-gilt plating is of the highest quality. The helmet’s bowl features a wreath made of leaves, the symbol of a military triumph and the scallop shaped browguard features the striking bust of a woman flanked by lions and other animals.
The helmet would have originally had two cheekpieces hinged at the side to protect the side of the face. These survive separately as they are too fragile to re-attach to the helmet. One well preserved cheekpiece depicts a Roman emperor on horseback with the goddess Victory flying behind. Beneath his horse’s hooves is a cowering figure, possibly a native Briton.
What the native British people who buried this helmet made of this image of Roman dominance we do not know. Did they identify with the defeated foe or triumphant horseman? Does this suggest the local population were pro-Roman and received this helmet as a diplomatic gift of thanks to seal an alliance? It is an intriguing mystery but research is ongoing.
3D model of the Hallaton Helmet
As part of an Arts Council England-funded project, a number of objects in the collections of Leicestershire County Council were turned into 3D models, including the Hallaton Helmet. You can view the model below, which is interactive and rotates, so you can see all angles.