Made from copper alloy in the 3rd century AD, the helmet's brow band is engraved and embossed with representations of shrines (aediculae) housing the deities Victory, Mars and Minerva, all of whom were associated with war. Prancing horsemen are depicted between the figures. The brow band has three diadem-like peaks bordered by writhing snakes whose heads meet at the centre, forming an arch above the central figure of Mars. Two bosses stand out at the rear of the helmet, at the centre of embossed flowers. The sides and top of the helmet are embossed with feathers and a feather-like pattern. The design is similar to others found in Worthing, Norfolk and Chalon-sur-Saône in France. Despite its relative thinness and lavish decoration, it is thought that such helmets would have been used in battle as well as in parades or the hippika gymnasia (cavalry tournaments).
The helmet remains something of an enigma. It was buried in a compressed and folded state in complete isolation from any other objects of the same period and at some remove from any known Roman sites; how and why it came to be deposited remains unknown. There is no closely associated fort or fortress in the vicinity. However, the Dutch historian Johan Nicolay has identified a "lifecycle" for Roman military equipment in which ex-soldiers took items home with them as a reminder of their service and occasionally disposed of them away from garrison sites, for instance by votive deposition or burial with the dead. Another Roman cavalry helmet, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was discovered in Cumbria in May 2010 in a broadly similar context – away from any known settlements but folded before burial – suggesting that it may have been a votive offering or loot that had been hidden for safe-keeping.
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