Iron helmet in numerous fragments, one of which has raised band(s) across (x-ray shows two bands crossing at right angles).
- Excavated/Findspot: Shorwell (near)
- (Europe,United Kingdom,England,Isle of Wight,Shorwell)
- Width: 93 millimetres (largest piece)
For the reconstruction, see: J. Hood, B. Ager, C. Williams, S. Harrington & C. Cartwright, 2012, “Investigating and interpreting an early-to-mid sixth-century Frankish style helmet”, British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, 6 (2012), 83-95.
20 September 2012
Reason for treatment
Clean, investigate and reconstruct
When the single identifiable grave at the Shorwel site was excavated by members of the Isle of Wight Archaeology and Historic Environment Service in November 2004 it was found to contain what was provisionally identified as a fragmentary iron ‘vessel’ (2006,0305.67). The cdondition of the object suggested that, as well as, deterioartion in the ground it had been severely disturbed by plough related sub soiling. During excavation of the grave the iron vessel-like object was found to be completely fragmentary with the pieces having no clear relation or co-location. This led the excavation team to lift the fragments individually, or in small groups where a correlation was obvious, rather than block-lift the entire assemblage.
X-radiography initially carried out by English Heritage and then at the British Museum, once the objects had been acquired, was used as one method of sorting the fragments by density and curvature. An approach of minimal cleaning was adopted for each of the approximately 400 fragments in order to preserve any mineral-preserved organic remains which might be better interpreted post reconstruction. It was clear that extensive corrosion, as well as some distortion, had occurred in the ground and this made establishing the co-location of fragments and their reconstruction into a three-dimensional object especially complex. In some cases joins had to be made between de-laminated layers of the same fragment as well as along the break edges. This was achieved with a cellulose nitrate based adhesive and consolidation was carried out with 3-5% Paraloid B72 (acrylic co-polymer) in acetone applied with a micro-pipette and soft brushes. Support was added along adjoining break edges with nylon gossamer tabs secured with adhesive and fills were made with fine amorphous silica micro balloons mixed with differing percentages of Paraloid B72 in acetone depending on the specific working properties required. Examination of the helmets construction, aided by X-radiography and three-dimensional scanning, showed that the helmet was of composite construction and comprised of eight separate plates riveted together. An encircling brow band had been riveted to a brow-to-nape band and two separate lateral bands, with the gaps left by the crossing ‘framework’ backed by four sub-triangular infill plates. Discusion of the associated mineral-preserved organic remains of plant remains, textile nad skin product will be included in the forthcoming publication: Hood, J., Ager, B., Williams, C., Harrington, S and Cartwright, C., ‘Investigating and interpreting an early-to-mid sixth-century Frankish style helmet’, in The British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, ed. Saunders, D. Archetype Publications, (submited 2012).
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- 2004T187 (Treasure number)
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Object reference number: MCS27119
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