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Roman Helmet from Ancient Britain

Image: A Roman helmet is seen in an undated illustration handed out by the British Museum
Artistic rendering of a Roman helmet found in Britain.

Long covered by the sands of time, a beautifully ornate Roman helmet was unveiled today in Leicestershire, England.  A former teacher and amateur archaeologist stumbled upon the find nearly ten years ago.  Many treasures from the days of Roman rule in Britain have been unearthed, but this helmet may be the most unique.   It was so covered by dirt and rust that it seems it was almost overlooked.  It was used as a “rusty bucket” in which to gather the seemingly more valuable items in the area.  The iron helmet, overlaid with silver leaf, is now estimated to be worth more than $460,000.  The find is indeed extraordinary.  Very few helmets of this quality and condition have been found.

Archaeologists believe the helmet dates to the Roman invasion by the Emperor Claudius* (c. A.D. 43).

“The helmet doesn’t seem to be damaged, so it could have been taken in battle but I think that’s not terribly likely,” Peter Liddle, community archaeologist for Leicestershire County Council, told Reuters.

“I think two things are the most likely — this belonged to a Briton who has fought in the Roman Army and got back home in one piece or it was a diplomatic gift from the Romans to a local ruler to cement an alliance,” he added.

To read the full story of the helmet, its discovery, and its future in the modern era, visit the article “Rusty Bucket? Rare Roman Helmet found in UK.”  OR “Hallaton Helmet” on the BBC website.
Such stories make me want to put on my fedora and dig around in Europe.  What stories might this helmet have witnessed?  What other ancient tresures will the land of Britain yield?  How exciting to know that as you gaze upon this helmet, you are looking at a prize possession that an ancient man once wore with pride.  I feel a similar excitement each time I read an ancient Latin text.  I love unearthing the literary treasures this language holds and thinking, I am reading the very same words, the very same thoughts this person took pains to record so many centuries ago.  It is as if time dissipates for a moment.
I now feel a sudden urge to read Caesar.
*Students of the Latin Alive series can read an excerpt from Suetonius’ biography of the Emperor Claudius in chapter 7 of LA 2.

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