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The Sutton Hoo Helmet

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1939,1010.93

  • Title (object)

    • The Sutton Hoo Helmet
  • Description

    Iron and tinned copper alloy helmet, consisting of many pieces of iron, now built into a reconstruction, forming cap, cheek-pieces, mask and neck-guard. Covered with panels of tinned copper alloy sheeting. The copper alloy sheets are stamped with various patterns including animal interlace, and warrior motifs depicted in two panels. Three different dies were used for the figural scenes and two for the interlace. The warrior motifs are known as the "Dancing Warrior" and "Fallen Warrior". A crest runs over the cap of the helmet and leads down the face in a straight line, forming the nose, which is gilt copper alloy. The crest itself is of iron and has gilt animal terminals at the forehead and back of the head, the animals having cloisonné garnet eyes. The iron crest and copper alloy eyebrows are inlaid with silver wire; the eyebrows have gilt zoomorphic terminals consisting of boar heads, and strips of garnet cloisonné work immediately above the eye sockets. The nose and mouth-piece are cast as one; they are made of parcel-gilt and partly tinned copper alloy, with engraved detail and silver inlay.

    More 

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • early 7thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 31.8 centimetres (as restored)
    • Circumference: 74.6 centimetres (as restored, at eyebrow level)
    • Width: 21.5 centimetres (as restored, at rim level)
    • Length: 25.5 centimetres (as restored, at rim level)
    • Weight: 2.5 kilograms (of original, estimated)
  • Curator's comments

    Most recent publication:

    S. Marzinzik, The Sutton Hoo Helmet. British Museum Object in Focus Series (London 2007).

  • Bibliography

    • Marzinzik 2013 106-107 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 47 bibliographic details
    • Bruce-Mitford 1978 Figs.103-109 bibliographic details
    • Speake 1980 pl 5c bibliographic details
  • Location

    G41/dc1

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    29 July 2002

    Reason for treatment

    Permanent Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Clean to remove dirt and tarnish.

    Condition

    The object is in fair condition overall. There is dirt and dust on the surface of the object. The original pieces of iron are covered in a white deposit. This appears to be either a moulding material or plaster of paris probably from the reconstructed areas. There is no active corrosion. There is very little remaining evidence of tinning present. It appears only in one area. The tinned stips that rivet the plates in situ are in poor condition and are corroded to a white deposit. There appears to be evidence of tinning on the nasal area although this is very worn. There is niello inlay on the nose and mouth although this appears to be reverting back to silver. There is a small area on the outside of the helmet showing traces of mineral preserved woven textile. There is a small area on the inside of helmet with traces of mineral preserved woven textile. No other remains can be seen.

    Treatment details

    The dirt and dust was removed from the surface of the gilded, tinned and silver inlaid areas with cotton swabs of Industrial methylated spirits (ethanol,methanol). The dust was removed from the reconstructed plaster areas using Rowney's kneadable putty rubber (vulcanized rubber). Any dust was brushed from the original iron areas with a sable haired brush.

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1939

  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1939

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1939,1010.93

COMPASS Image Caption: Original helmet;The king's helmet from Sutton Hoo;Helmed y brenin o Sutton Hoo

Group of Objects

COMPASS Image Caption: Original helmet;The king's helmet from Sutton Hoo;Helmed y brenin o Sutton Hoo

Image description

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Object reference number: MCS16604

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