Benty Grange Helmet

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Coordinates: 53°03′19″N 1°53′56″W / 53.055299°N 1.898832°W / 53.055299; -1.898832

Colour photograph of the Benty Grange helmet
The Benty Grange Helmet on display in the Weston Park Museum

The Benty Grange helmet is an archaeological artefact excavated by Thomas Bateman on 3 May 1848 from an Anglo-Saxon tumulus (or barrow) at the Benty Grange Farm in the civil parish of Monyash in the English county of Derbyshire.[1]

The remains and a reconstruction are in Sheffield's Weston Park Museum.

This helmet is of the Spangenhelm type and like the Pioneer helmet is boar-crested. The surviving iron bands would have supported plates of horn (decayed in antiquity) held in place with small silver rivets[2] and the nasal of the helmet is decorated with a silver cross.

Discovery[edit]

The helmet was discovered on 3 May 1848 during an excavation by Thomas Bateman on the Benty Grange farm in Derbyshire,[1] in what is now the Peak District National Park.[3] The subject of the excavation, a barrow, was "perhaps not more than two feet at the highest point," but "spread over a pretty large area," and "surrounded by a small fosse or trench."[1] At its center lay a body, flat against the original surface of the soil, of which little remained;[1] what was thought to be the one remnant, strands of hair, is now thought to be from a cloak[4] of "fur, cowhide or similar material".[5] In the area of the "hair" was found "a curious assemblage of ornaments," which were difficult to successfully remove from the hardened earth.[1] This included a cup of leather or wood, approximately three inches in diameter at the mouth.[1] It's rim was edged with silver,[1] while its surface was "decorated by four wheel-shaped ornaments and two crosses of thin silver, affixed by pins of the same metal, clenched inside."[6] Also found were "two circular enamels upon copper 1 3/4 diameter, in narrow silver frames, and a third, which was so far decomposed as to be irrecoverable", as well as "a knot of very fine wire," and some "thin bone variously ornamented with lozenges &c."[6] attached to silk, but which soon decayed when exposed to air.[7]

Crest[edit]

Detail of the Boar shaped crest.

This helm is crested with an iron boar with bronze eyes inset with garnet, this sits upon an elliptical copper-alloy plate. The hips of the boar are made with pear shaped plates of gilded silver.[8] The 1986 reconstruction, based on conservation work carried out at the British Museum has boar bristles running along the back.[9]

In Norse mythology, the boar talisman was associated with Freyja's role as battle goddess; helmets with boar-crests are described in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bateman 1861, p. 28.
  2. ^ Bateman 1861.
  3. ^ Lester 1987, p. 34.
  4. ^ Bruce-Mitford 1974, pl. 73.
  5. ^ Bruce-Mitford 1974, p. 224.
  6. ^ a b Bateman 1861, p. 29.
  7. ^ Bateman 1861, p. 30.
  8. ^ Bruce-Mitford 1974, pp. 223–252.
  9. ^ Museums Sheffield.

Bibliography[edit]