Extraordinary bronze Roman helmet found by a metal detector achieves £2.3 million

As we reported, the extraordinary Roman cavalry parade helmet, turned up earlier this year by a metal detector in a small Cumbrian village went under the hammer today (October 7) at Christie's sale of antiquities.

The 2,000-year-old bronze helmet includes a full face mask and an unusual Griffin crest on its peak. Experts have been extremely excited, as the piece is extremely intricate, well-preserved and rare - it is thought to be one of only three found in the UK.

The Ribchester Helmet was found in 1796 and is held by the British Museum, while the Newstead Helmet was found in 1905 and is kept at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, so this was the only one available to own by a private collector (though a museum also bid).

Thought to date from the 1st or 2nd century AD, the helmet was never intended for military use as such, but instead would have presented a striking image at ceremonies



The helmet started with a substantial estimate of £200,000-300,000, but this rapidly looked irrelevant as six bidders started battling it out for the unique piece.

Six bidders fought for the helmet - three by phone, two in the room and one via the internet from California. Finally one of the phone bidders won out, offering a bid of £2.3 million. Both buyer and seller remain anonymous.



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