- Museum number
Copper alloy chamfron mount with figure of Minerva. A discoidal mount with a projecting bust of Minerva. Almost half of the plate is lacking, and the edge of the remaining part is damaged and distorted in several places. Nevertheless, two of the four fastening spikes on the back of the plate survive. They are 39 mm apart. One is broken, but the other, clenched, measures 9.5 mm from base to tip. At the front of the plate two sets of concentric paired grooves enclose the projecting bust, which has been competently, if inelegantly, formed. The helmet's twin crest, cracked in the centre, and distorted forward, terminates above the forehead in a stylised griffin head. The helmet itself is plain, the grooves on the underside of the rim representing the goddess' hair. The face is of bulging triangular form, with a small chin and thick neck. The eyes, carefully depicted, incorporate lids, brows and pupils. The broad nose is slightly damaged. A pair of drilled hollows emphasise the nostrils. A similar pair of hollows marks the corners of the mouth, while a single hollow in the chin gives prominence to the lower lip. Precisely the same arrangement is followed on the aegis, though the nose/mouth region is less successfully rendered. The Gorgon's hair is dramatically windswept. The drapery of Minerva's chiton is represented by several rows of punched dashes and commas. The back of the bust is hollow, though the head is filled with mineralised remains, insufficiently dense to be lead, but probably incorporated as packing at the time of manufacture. This could possibly have been the central mount from a horse's breast band. More probably, however, it was the central forehead component of a composite leather chamfron and may well have formed part of the same suite of chamfron fittings as a pair of the eye-guards (1814,0705.2-5). Both of the near-complete leather chamfrons from Newstead and Vindolanda (Chamfron I) have a central circular emplacement of virtually identical size to the mount (Curie 1911: 153-155, pi. XXI; Driel-Murray 1989:283-290, fig. 5). Furthermore, the number, size, position and spacing of the fastening spikes on the back of the mount also correspond exactly with those of the perforations in the central emplacement of Vindolanda Chamfron I, from which most of the metal trappings had been detached prior to its deposition.
- Production date
Diameter: 73 millimetres
Height: 72 millimetres
Weight: 64.20 grammes
- Curator's comments
- Ribchester hoard
Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
From Ribchester, Lancashire
This hoard of military metalwork and other itens was found in 1796 by a clogmaker's son playing behind his father's house in the village of Ribchester. Ribchester was the site of a Roman fort, and the hoard seems to have been placed in storage in a wooden box, probably beneath a barrack block floor, in about AD 120. Until then the fort had been garrisoned by a cavalry regiment, the Ala II Asturum, and the hoard, possibly the belongings of a single soldier, consists mainly of cavalry equimpent.
Most striking is the two-piece vizor helmet, which was worn in cavalry sports events (hippika gymnasia), colourful displays in which both horse and rider were dressed in elaborate clothing and metal fittings.
The perforated bronze domes to the left of the helmet are a pair of horse eye-guards, and below them is a set of highly-decorated horse brass, including (to the right of the helmet) a mount with a bust of Minerva, goddess of war and wisdom. The broken discs in the centre foreground are the remains of military awards, while on the right are three bronze pans and a pottery mixing bowl (mortarium). The other objects include parts of two saddle plates and a boar's tusk amulet (good luck charm).
- On display (G49/dc8)
- Exhibition history
2003 26 Apr-24 Aug, USA, Lexington, Kentucky Horse Park, All the Queen’s Horses
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number