Height: 24.200 cm
Circumference: 58.500 cm
Gift of the Port of London Authority
P&EE 1988 10-4 1
Room 50: Britain and Europe
Iron Age, 150-50 BC
From the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, London, England
A helmet for a god?
This 'helmet' was dredged from the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge in the early 1860s. It is the only Iron Age helmet to have ever been found in southern England, and it is the only Iron Age helmet with horns ever to have been found anywhere in Europe. Horns were often a symbol of the gods in different parts of the ancient world. This might suggest the person who wore this was a special person, or that the helmet was made for a god to wear. Like the Deal Crown, this was more of a symbolic head-dress than actual protection for the head in battle. The person who wore the helmet would need a modern hat size of 7.
Like many other objects, especially weapons, this helmet was found in the River Thames. These include the Battersea Shield, which was also made for conspicuous display rather than use in war.
The helmet is made from sheet bronze pieces held together with many carefully placed bronze rivets. It is decorated with the style of La Tène art used in Britain between 250 and 50 BC. The repoussé decoration is repeated on the back and the front. Originally, the bronze helmet would have been a shining polished bronze colour, not the dull green colour it is today. It was also once decorated with studs of bright red glass. The decoration is similar to that on the Snettisham Great Torc.
S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)