Roman bronze helmet found in a field sells for £2.3 MILLION... eight times its estimated value
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Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:24 PM
A rare Roman bronze helmet found in a field by a metal detecting enthusiast, sold for an astonishing £2.3 million at auction today. The immaculately preserved 2,000-year-old artefact, one of only three ever found in Britain, was discovered in a field by an unemployed graduate in his early 20s.
It prompted a five-minute frenzy of bidding at Christie’s in London before it was bought anonymously on the telephone for eight times its pre-sale estimate. The proceeds from the Crosby Garrett Helmet, named after the hamlet in Cumbria where it was found in May, will now be split between the finder and the landowner, making both millionaires. They have been chosen to remain anonymous.
The helmet, complete with an ornate face mask surrounded by a ring of tightly curled hair, was not intended to be worn in combat but for cavalry sports parades which often accompanied religious festivals. Wearing full armour and colourful streamers, Roman soldiers would take part in organised games to impress visiting officials.
Christie’s described the find, from the late 1st century AD, as ‘an extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith’. Six bidders fought for the helmet pushing the price steeply from its original £200,000-£300,000 estimate up to £2,281,250.
It is the find of a lifetime for the young man, who with the landowners’ permission had searched the same field for seven years with his father as a hobby, but had only ever found a few coins and scrap metal. Only two other helmets complete with face-masks have been discovered in Britain. They are the Ribchester Helmet, found in 1796 and now in the British Museum, and the Newstead Helmet, found some time around 1905 and now at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
Only a handful of helmets such quality have been found anywhere across the former Roman empire, and potential buyers from all over the world registered interest.
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