The Ribchester Helmet

Ribchester Roman Museum 
8 July – 2 November 2014

Recommend this exhibition

In 1796 the son of a clog-maker in the village of Ribchester, Lancashire, made an astonishing discovery while playing on waste-ground behind their cottage. It was a magnificently ornate bronze visor-helmet comprising a hinged face-mask and a domed head-piece, and it soon became famous as the Ribchester Helmet.

The helmet, dating from the 1st-2nd century, was not meant for combat but was a piece of finely-crafted prestige equipment used by elite cavalrymen in mock battles on the training ground and was the most resplendent piece in a large hoard of Roman military equipment.

Since its acquisition in 1814 the helmet has been almost continuously on exhibition at the British Museum. Now, for the first time, the Ribchester Helmet will temporarily return to its place of discovery as a Spotlight loan. It will form the stunning centre-piece of a display celebrating Ribchester Museum’s centenary year – which also happens to be the bi-centenary of its acquisition by the British Museum.

The Spotlight loan will be accompanied by a series of events including contextual talks and a Roman festival.



The Ribchester Helmet. Copper alloy cavalry helmet with face-mask visor. Decorated with a scene of a skirmish between infantry and cavalry. Fittings for a crest-box and a pair of trailing streamers survive on the head-piece.