Tag Archives: Crosby Garrett Helmet

Auction Day Arrives – Christie’s Sale 5488, Lot 176: The Crosby Garrett Helmet

The Crosby Garrett Helmet at the Christie’s web site:
“Lot Description
A ROMAN BRONZE CAVALRY PARADE HELMET CIRCA LATE 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.
Composed of two sections, helmet and mask; the tinned bronze face-mask with idealised youthful features, the openwork eyes with irises formed of delicate perforated rings, the upper and lower lids with incised lashes, the eyebrows arching from the bridge of the nose to the hairline with incised herringbone detail, the nostrils pierced, the fleshy lips slightly parted, with filtrum indicated, the face framed by three rows of tight corkscrew curls, the individual strands finely incised, the lower edge with remains of iron rivets on either side, probably for attachment of a strap for fastening to the helmet; the bronze helmet in the form of a Phrygian-style cap, with curved tip, surmounted by a solid-cast griffin, on an integral base, seated on its haunches, with finely incised details of the fur and mane, an attachment loop on the back of the neck, his wings outstretched with incised feather detail, his right paw raised and resting on the rim of a fluted amphora, an oval recess below with pierced loop at the tip, the back edge of the cap delineated by a raised ridge, curling inwards at the corners, terminating in incised button finals and decorated with pairs of vertical lines bordered by tongues, a row of hair curls emerging from underneath, the back and sides of the cap decorated with five rosettes, with groups of punched dots at the tips of the petals, with narrow flaring neck-guard, pierced in the centre and left corner, the perimeter decorated with incised diagonal dashes and tongues, with original hinge for attachment to the face-mask, mounted 16 in. (40.7 cm.) high

Lot Notes

This remarkable cavalry parade helmet, with its enigmatic features, is one of only three that have been discovered in Britain complete with face-masks. The others being the Ribchester Helmet, found in 1796 and now in the British Museum, and the Newstead Helmet, in the Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh, found circa 1905. The Crosby Garrett Helmet, found in Cumbria earlier this year is an extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet sets itself apart by virtue of its beauty, workmanship and completeness, particularly the face-mask, which was found virtually intact. In addition, the remarkable Phrygian-style peak surmounted by its elaborate bronze griffin crest appears unprecedented. H. Russell Robinson, formerly the curator of the Royal Armouries, cites only one other fragmentary helmet found at Ostrov in Romania, dated to the second half of the 2nd Century A.D., in the form of a tall Phrygian cap. Representations of similar helmets can be found at the base of Trajan’s Column among the captured Dacian and Sarmatian armour (cf ., H.R. Robinson, The Armour of Imperial Rome, London 1975, pp. 134-135, pls. 409-410). The openwork eyes and facial features of the Crosby Garrett Helmet find their closest parallels with Robinson’s Cavalry Sports Type E helmets, and in particular with a helmet from Nola, in southern Italy, now in the British Museum, dated to the late 1st to early 2nd Century A.D., (ibid., p. 124, pl. 361). However, the rendering of the hair in large tight curls is comparable to that of the Belgrade mask, now in the Archaeological Museum in Belgrade, belonging to Cavalry Sports Type C, and dated to the 2nd Century A.D. (ibid. p. 115, pl. 326).

These helmets were not for combative use, but worn for hippika gymnasia, (cavalry sports events). The polished white-metal surface of the Crosby Garrett face-mask would have provided a striking contrast to the original golden-bronze colour of the hair and Phrygian cap. In addition, colourful streamers may have been attached to the rings along the back ridge and on the griffin crest. Arrian of Nicomedia, a Roman provincial governor under Hadrian, provides us with the only surviving contemporary source of information on cavalry sports events. He describes, in an appendix to his Ars Tactica, how the cavalrymen were divided into two teams which took turns to attack and defend. He suggests that the wearing of these helmets was a mark of rank or excellence in horsemanship. Participants would also carry a light, elaborately painted shield, and wear an embroidered tunic and possibly thigh-guards and greaves, all of which would contribute to the impressive spectacle. These events may well have accompanied religious festivals celebrated by the Roman army and were probably also put on for the benefit of visiting officials. The displays would have been intended to demonstrate the outstanding equestrian skill and marksmanship of the Roman soldier and the wealth of the great empire he represented.”

Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal – 24 Hours to Go!

Yep, I’m starting to sound like a broken record right? Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal or get in touch with Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery here.

The totals on the JustGiving web site stand at £8,051.22 donated online, plus £2,045.22 Gift Aid plus supplement. So we are about £410 up on yesterday. Right now, unless Tullie House Museum have received some big offline donations, things don’t look so good.

Crunch Time for the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal – Just 48 Hours to Go!

Ok folks, it’s crunch time for the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal. In less than 48 hours, the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet will go under the auctioneers hammer at Christie’s in London. You can Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal or you can get in touch with Tullie House Museum directly right here.

The total on the Just Giving web site now stands at £7,641.22 plus £1,954.96 Gift Aid plus supplement, lets see if we can get that total up even higher in the next 48 hours. So go and Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal right now!

I don’t know how much Tullie House Museum has raised in offline donations, I couldn’t find any mention on their website.

Lecture on the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet at Kendal Museum

The Westmorland Gazzette reports that there will be a lecture on the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet held at Kendal Museum on October 1st at 19:30. To book a seat call the Kendal Museum on 01539 815597 or email info@kendal.ac.uk.

You can donate online to the Crosby Garrett Helmet Appeal here: http://www.justgiving.com/Tullie-House-Crosby-Garrett-Roman-Helmet-Appeal

Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Latest News

The BBC is reporting that an anonymous donor has not only pledged £50,000 to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal, but has promised to match every contribution to Tullie House Museum’s appeal fund pound for pound. No reports, as yet, on whether the appeal will receive money from those high-profile arts and archaeology funds mentioned in an earlier blog.

More on the donation from the Granuid.

The Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet now has an Wikipedia article.

You can donate online to the Crosby Garrett Helmet Appeal here: http://www.justgiving.com/Tullie-House-Crosby-Garrett-Roman-Helmet-Appeal

How to donate to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal

I just received a reply from the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery about how to donate to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal:

“People can phone and pledge their donation on 01228 618743 or they can fill the attached donation form and send it back with their preferred method of payment.”

Download the donation form here: Donation form – gift aid (word document) right click and save. You can donate by credit and debit card using this form. No mention of Paypal or any online payment methods though.

Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal

The Crosby Garrett Helmet – Best Detecting Find Ever (Maybe)

Take a look at the latest Christie’s catalogue, the Roman Cavalryman’s helmet pictured on the cover was found by a metal detectorist in Crosby Garrett, Cumbria in May 2010 and was recorded by the Finds Liaison Officer at Tullie House Museum.

The helmet dates from the late first to second centuries AD, is made from tinned bronze and is 16 inches high. Christies have placed an estimate of £200,000-£300,000 on the helmet, which seems, to me at least, to be a very conservative estimate on such a large and significant piece of Roman military equipment. I would be very surprised if the auctioneer’s hammer came down at anything less than half a million pounds.

My major concern about this incredible metal detecting find is who will buy it? Does the Tullie House Museum have the cash to buy this incredible piece of Roman military history? Is the British Museum waiting in the wings for auction day to rush in and save it for the nation? After all of the post credit crunch cut backs, does the British Museum even have the money in reserve to buy it? The sale takes place on Thursday 7 October 2010, so time is short, if there isn’t a rescue plan in place is there time to organise one?

My biggest fear is that the Crosby Garrett Helmet is destined to leave our shores forever. Could the helmet go to the US, Japan or who knows where else? Surely any attempt to export the helmet would be blocked?

I would love to see the Crosby Garrett Helmet go to the Tullie House Museum, but if not to Tullie House, then the British Museum would be the next best thing. I just hope the helmet stays in this country and that the helmet ends up somewhere the general public can go and see it.

Is the Crosby Garrett Helmet the best metal detecting find ever? It may well be. I have certainly added stunning Roman Cavalryman’s helmet to my “must find” list!

There are more pictures and information about the helmet in the online edition of the Christies catalogue on pages 118-123 (pages 116-121 of the print version)