Skull and crown of the 'Deal Warrior'

Iron Age, 200-150 BC
From a burial found in the Mill Hill Cemetery, Deal, Kent, England

A crown for a warrior priest?

This headdress or crown was found on the head of a warrior buried with his sword and shield. It is made from two sheets of bronze held together with rivets. The bronze band which went around the head is decorated with La Tène-style patterns. The metal was worn directly on the head and not padded or strengthened with leather; when found impressions of human hair were left in the corrosion on the inner surface.

Also found in the grave were: an iron sword with bronze scabbard fittings and suspension rings for holding the sword on a belt; bronze parts from a wooden shield, and a bronze brooch decorated with applied coral studs.

No other head dresses from Iron Age Europe have been found in a grave. The discovery of this unusual burial led Dr Ian Stead at the British Museum to look again at other odd objects from Iron Age and Roman Britain. Another unusual Iron Age burial, in Cambridge, may also have contained a head-dress. This head-dress is very like those worn by some priests in Roman Britain over 200 years later. Were these Iron Age 'crowns' also only worn by priests (druids) in the Iron Age? If so, was this person a warrior and a priest?

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Skull and crown of the 'Deal Warrior'

Skull and crown

  • The crushed and damaged skull

    The crushed and damaged skull

  • Warrior in his grave

    Warrior in his grave


More information


K. Parfitt, Iron Age burials from Mill H-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

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)


Circumference: 59.500 cm (hat size 7½)
Width: 3.800 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1990 1-2 24


Gift of the Dover Archaeological Group


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