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The Waterloo Helmet

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Waterloo Helmet
  • Description

    Copper alloy horned helmet. The cap is made from two pieces of copper alloy sheet, front and rear, held together by copper alloy rivets. While below the front part extends a separate crescent-shaped piece. The edge of the cap is strengthen with a U-sectioned binding held in position with rivetted clips. Each horn consists of a cone of copper alloy sheet rivetted along the top side, with terminal knobs cast in position. One horn has been broken away and replaced. At each side is a ring fitting for a chin-strap or cheekpiece. Running up from the ring fittings and around the base of each horn is a decorative strip embellished with rows of rivets. This strip continues across the top of the helmet between the two horns. This strip overlies part of the repousse ornament. Small holes irregularly spaced round the edge of the cap were perhaps to secure a lining.

    The ornament of the helmet consists of five (orginally six) copper alloy studs, cross-scored to take red glass 'enamel', and a repousse design on front and back. The design is similar is style to that on the Snettisham Great Torc.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 150 BC - 50 BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 240 millimetres (max)
    • Circumference: 585 millimetres
    • Length: 420 millimetres (between horn tips, approx)
    • Diameter: 190 millimetres (max, approx)
    • Weight: 568 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Found in 1868 and on loan from the Thames Conservancy until 1988.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. This helmet is unlikely to have been used in battle and was probably a form of ceremonial headdress. The person who wore the helmet would need a modern hat size of 7.

    The helmet 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.


  • Bibliography

    • Brailsford 1975 bibliographic details
    • Spratling 1972 304 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G50/dc9

  • Exhibition history


    2016 11 Mar- 25 Sep, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Celts.
    2015-2016 24 Sep-31 Jan, London, BM, G30, 'Celts: Art and Identity'

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Placed on loan to the museum in 1868 by the Thames Conservancy. See Deposit Register p.14

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Image Caption: Horned helmet


COMPASS Image Caption: Horned helmet

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB89280

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