Monday 23 July 2012

The restoration of the Crosby Garrett helmet

I have been watching part of the final episode of ITV's "Britain's Secret Treasures" (Sunday 22 July 2012). Number 9 was the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet (see PAS entry) [at c. 7 minutes on ITV player]. Michael Buerk makes the point that the helmet is "now lost to the nation".  

We have reviewed the reported story of its finding and its reporting to PAS elsewhere.

Bettany Hughes now tells us that there was a single finder (yet note that the Independent reported that it was found by a father an a son). She states that the finder reported the discovery to the British Museum (known to be Sally Worrell of PAS), and instructed Christie's to "reconstruct and sell" the helmet. I have read the report from the restorer and have noted the wider concern that this object should have been placed in the hands of a skilled archaeological conservator. Hughes claims that the restoration took some six months, but in fact it was closer to three.

Hughes makes the point that the disappearance of the helmet subsequent to the sale has left "a hole in history", but did not raise the more important issue that the removal of this helmet from its archaeological context (wherever that was) has destroyed knowledge.

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