Filed under: Auctions
Treasure hunters in Britain have been having good luck with their metal detectors. Earlier this summer we wrote about coins that had been found in a field. A similar story surrounds a Roman helmet that is being put up for auction through Christie's. The very lifelike bronze helmet is estimated to bring in £200,000 - £300,000 when it is sold during the Antiquities sale on October 7 at Christie's London, South Kensington. It was found with a metal detector near the village of Crosby Garrett in Cumbria.
The Guardian reports that Tullie House in Carlisle, which has a large Roman collection, has been interested in obtaining the helmet. The helmet is not covered by treasure law which would give a British museum the automatic right to buy it. The treasure law only applies to bronze when found in hoards, because this is a single object it does not qualify. It's a windfall for the finder who is in his early 20s and has been detecting with his father for several years. When he found the helmet he had no idea of the age but reported it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum. The Guardian article says that if a foreign buyer wins the auction it is likely that the government may move in to bar the export of the piece and give a British museum a chance to match that bid. There are just two other helmets that have been found in Britain with complete face masks, one is in the British Museum, the other is in Edinburgh. Although this helmet was found in more than 30 pieces it has now been restored. Some archaeologists are angry that it was restored because the pieces could have offered clues as to how it came to be buried in the ground.