Skip to main content
Read page text

Museum

British

Trustees of the

: ©

PHOTOS

cheekpieces were stacked on top of it. A sixth was found wedged inside the helmet bowl, while the presence of a seventh was proven by scattered fragments of corroded metal. Such cheekpieces would be fixed to a helmet bowl with a metal hinge, and were worn by soldiers to protect the sides of their faces.

The question of whether any of the cheekpieces were originally attached to the helmet bowl was finally answered in November 2011. A fragile sliver of metal on the cheekpiece found within the bowl joins with its edge. This left-sided cheekpiece features a similar, if less well preserved, equestrian figure to Cheekpiece 1. The right cheekpiece has yet to be conclusively identified.

A fragile sliver of metal on the cheekpiece found within the bowl joins with its edge. This left-sided cheekpiece features a similar, if less well preserved, equestrian figure to

Triumphant iconography

Several depict a male figure – probably a victorious emperor – on horseback, spurred on by a winged Victory. Cowering beneath the

The Hallaton cheekpieces portray a wealth of Roman imperial propaganda. Several depict a male figure – probably a victorious emperor – on horseback, spurred on by a winged Victory. Cowering beneath the horse is a subdued barbarian, sometimes with a helmet and shield to symbolise the spoils of war. Each cheekpiece included an ear protector, indicating they were intended for horsemen – cavalry troopers or mounted officers – to whom such triumphant equestrian scenes must have been especially appealing. In total five cheekpieces display horsemen motifs. Cheekpiece 4 is more baffling: it seems to show a man in profile wearing a banded headdress, hat or helmet (see CA 252).

The handful of cheekpieces from elsewhere in Britain with similar decorative styles include a bronze example found at Bath Lane, Leicester – on display in the Jewry Wall Museum – and another from Brough, Nottinghamshire, in the collection of Newark and Sherwood Museum Service. This latter is of very high quality and features a Dioscurus figure – one of the Castor and

40

current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk

AbOve Work under way on the fragile remains of the helmet.

AbOve & rIGHT The helmet found at Xanten Wardt in Germany is the closest parallel to the Hallaton example.

Pollux twins – with a horse. Yet while the decoration of the Hallaton helmet fits with others from England dating to AD 1-50, its execution is unusually fine. Indeed, according to Simon James of the University of Leicester, the helmet is ‘as splendid an example as we have ever found anywhere in the Roman Empire’.

The decoration on the brow of the helmet bowl is particularly splendid. Regrettably much damaged, at its centre the silver was worked into a detailed and prominent female bust of a goddess or perhaps empress. Flanked by lions, the identity of this female is not yet certain. James a detailed and prominent female bust of a goddess or perhaps empress. Flanked by lions, the identity of this female is not yet certain. James has suggested she might represent the goddess Cybele. Often represented with lions,

has suggested she might represent the goddess Cybele. Often represented with lions,

this this Magna Mater or ‘great mother’ was widely used during the Augustan period (27 BC-AD 14) to promote the values of that age. Yet Cybele is usually depicted with a mural crown, of which no trace remains. Simon James has also noted that the helmet lions appear to be resting a paw on their prey, a rendering that has more in common with funerary art than the cult of Cybele. There is that age. Yet Cybele is usually depicted with a mural crown, of which no trace remains. Simon James has also noted that the helmet lions appear to be resting a paw on their prey, a rendering that has more in common with funerary art than the cult of Cybele. There is still plenty of mileage still plenty of mileage

Bonn

Landesmuseum

: LVR

PHOTOS

March 2012 |

March 2012 |

My Bookmarks


    Skip to main content