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The Ribchester Helmet

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Ribchester Helmet
  • Description

    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.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1stC(late)-2ndC(early)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 300 millimetres
    • Weight: 1305.6 grammes
    • Width: 260 millimetres
    • Depth: 290 millimetres
    • Height: 387 millimetres (helmet on mount)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        (a) CARAVI
        (b) CARAV (followed by two setting out dots for the top and bottom of an I)
      • Inscription Comment

        Graffiti in punched dots.
        (a) On the underside of the neck-guard.
        (b) On the underside of the flange below the left ear of the visor.
  • Curator's comments

    Cavalry sports helmet

    Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
    From Ribchester, Lancashire

    Helmet worn by élite trooper in the colourful cavalry sports events

    In 1796 a clogmaker's son, playing behind his father's house in Ribchester, Lancashire, discovered a mass of corroded metalwork. This proved to be a hoard of Roman military equipment, mainly cavalry sports equipment and military awards.

    Cavalry sports (hippika gymnasia) were flamboyant displays of military horsemanship and weapons drill. They served both as training sessions and to entertain the troopers. The most colourful events were mock battles among the élite riders of the unit, often in the guise of Greeks and Amazons. Both men and horses wore elaborate suites of equipment on these occasions. The helmet, decorated with a scene of a skirmish between infantry and cavalry, is the most spectacular piece. When used, the head-piece and face mask of embossed bronze would be held together by a leather strap. A crest-box and a pair of trailing streamers or 'manes' would have been attached to the head-piece.


  • Bibliography

    • Opper 2008 63 bibliographic details
    • R I B II.3, 2425.6, pp. 46 bibliographic details
    • Hobbs & Jackson 2010 p. 56, fig. 44 bibliographic details
    • Roman Britain 1964 p. 67, pl. 26.4 bibliographic details
    • Jackson & Craddock 1995 pp.78-81, fig.48 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2014 7 July - 31 Oct, Ribchester Roman Museum, Spotlight: The Ribchester Helmet
    2008 24 Jul-26 Aug, London, BM, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict
    2007 15 Sep-2 Dec, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007
    2002 16 Sep-1 Dec, Leeds, Henry Moore Institute, Changing Faces

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: BCB60036

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