In May 2010, a treasure hunter armed with a metal detector made a startling discovery in Crosby Garrett, a little hamlet in Eden, Cumbria (UK).
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.
Now it has entered a Christie's catalogue, and is due to be auctioned next month. British law requires that objects found must be presented to officials, for them to decide whether museums should have the first bid, if they are at least ten per cent gold or silver.
As it is bronze alone, however, the finder is free to sell it, despite its obvious historical significance.
Never intended for military use, the cavalry parade helmet would have been worn for hippika gymnasia, (cavalry sports events). The polished white-metal surface of the Crosby Garrett face-mask would have provided a striking contrast to the original golden-bronze colour of the hair and Phrygian cap.
Colourful streamers may have been attached to the rings along the back ridge and on the griffin crest.
Christie's has listed the helmet, which dates from the 1st or 2nd century AD, at £200,000-300,000, describing the face-mask as "...tinned bronze face-mask with idealised youthful features, the openwork eyes with irises formed of delicate perforated rings."
It will lead their Antiques sale in London on October 7.
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