HALLATON Roman helmet
Reconstructing the Hallaton Helmet
A Roman imperial jigsaw puzzle
Count y ire icestersh
The discovery of fragmentary remains of several Roman helmets at Hallaton, Leicestershire, set conservators quite a challenge. Now, almost a decade later, their work is complete. Helen Sharp and Simon James reveal what has been learnt.
It is 11 years since a mass of corroded iron was found in a pit at Hallaton. Discovered on the site of a Late Iron Age shrine, this cracked and rusted metal could well seem unremarkable alongside such rich pickings as 5,296 Iron Age and Roman coins, a unique silver bowl, a bronze tankard handle, ingots, and thousands of pig bones (see CA 236). Yet the presence of a telltale silver-plated ‘ear’ identified the metal mass as a Roman cavalry helmet. And an especially fine one at that.
Too delicate to excavate on site, the helmet was lifted as a soil block and taken to the British Museum for a painstaking programme of micro-excavation and conservation work. By December 2011, this revealed that parts of at least four helmets were buried in the cache. Now, as the newly restored Hallaton helmet far RIGHT The delicately detailed decoration on the brow guard shows a female figure flanked by lions, while (above) Bob W hale’s drawing gives an impression of how the Hallaton Helmet may have originally looked. This is a tentative interpretation due to deterioration of certain parts of the surface.
current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk goes on public display for the first time and a monograph discussing the site is published, we investigate what this surprising find reveals about conquest-period Britain.
Initially discovered by members of the Hallaton Fieldwork Group in 2000, the shrine was excavated alongside archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). This revealed a stretch of ditch with a central, east-facing entrance, and carefully ordered pockets of activity. Coins were concentrated in 14 separate hoards inside and to the north of the entranceway, while pig carcasses – possibly the detritus of ritual feasting – were dumped on the opposite side of the ditch. Silver objects, such as the bowl, were placed in the southern
March 2012 |