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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.”

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.

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

Tullie House launches urgent appeal to keep Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet in Cumbria

From: http://www.tulliehouse.co.uk/romanhelmetappeal [Link now dead]

“Please help us to keep this signifcant find in Cumbria. See the images below.

Pledge your support by phoning Tullie House on 01228 618743 or join our Tullie House facebook group

Tullie House launches urgent appeal to keep rare Roman Helmet in Cumbria

A Roman helmet of national significance, found locally in Crosby Garrett, North Cumbria, will be auctioned on 7th October. Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is launching an urgent public and corporate appeal to help to secure this exceptionally rare Roman Cavalry Parade Helmet, dating from the end of the 1st to mid 3rd century AD, as a centrepiece for its new £1.5m Roman Frontier: stories beyond Hadrian’s Wall gallery, due to open summer 2011.

There are only two other comparable helmets known in the UK and neither of these is as complete or elaborate as the Cumbrian example that is a Roman copper-alloy two-piece face mask visor helmet. This type of mask is characterised by idealised (Greek) youthful male faces, mostly clean-shaven, with luxuriant curly and wavy hair.

According to an extract in the diary of Flavius Arranius, 136AD, ‘those of high rank or superior horsemanship wear gilded helmets to draw attention of the spectators. Unlike helmets made for active service, they are made to fit all round the faces of the riders with apertures for the eyes.’

Tullie House’s archaeology collections are extensive with a particularly important collection of Roman Cumbria material, especially from Carlisle and the Hadrian’s Wall area. In the development of its collections Tullie House prioritises artefacts that are judged to be of high importance to the local heritage and to ensure that items remain or are returned to Cumbria.

Tullie House needs to raise between £300-400,000to secure this major Roman artefact and is launching an urgent public and corporate appeal to encourage individuals and businesses to pledge their support now to keep the Cumbrian Roman Helmet in Cumbria.”

Please support this effort if you are able!