Monday, January 27, 2014

The alleged burial place of the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet

The February number of Current Archaeology has a feature on 'Crosby Garrett: Exploring the helmet's burial place' (Issue 287; Mike Bishop and Stuart Noon with Matthew Symonds). This coincides with the public display of the helmet at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, and then the British Museum.

Was the helmet found where it is claimed? The article comments, 'Unsubstantiated rumours speculated that perhaps the artefact had been found elsewhere, maybe even overseas, and that a faux findspot in the Hadrian's Wall hinterland was a way to secure a provenance'.

So what is the evidence that the helmet was found in a hole near Crosby Garrett? "Minerva Heritage Ltd opened a small trench on the spot, which revealed that any cut made when the helmet was deposited had been destroyed when it was dug up in 2010". In other words, the metal-detectorists obliterated any archaeology that could have been there, and there is no compelling evidence that the helmet was found at this spot.

Interestingly Noon suggests that the depth of soil, some 50 cm, was 'not sure the volume of soil would be enough' to have crushed the helmet in the way that it was presented. So, again, was it found here?

There is a photograph of further fragments of copper 'that could well be part of the helmet'. Are they made from the same alloy? Could they have been deliberately planted at the site?

It should be noted that the "restoration" work was not undertaken "at Christie's" but rather by an external individual.

The present proprietor of the helmet is left undisclosed.

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