Talk:Crosby Garrett Helmet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Good article Crosby Garrett Helmet has been listed as one of the Art and architecture good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 3, 2013 Good article nominee Listed
Did You Know
In the news A news item involving this article was featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "In the news" column on October 8, 2010.


Hello, can someone clarify some points at some date:

  • The text says "copper-alloy" (though Christies says bronze) - is it bronze, or just copper + smelting impurities, or something else?
  • Construction: as made is it from two pieces; the text says it was "folded before burial" - this seems to be the rear of the helmet - so must have been thin - will this have been made by hammering? (though says cast)
    • Are the front and back different alloys?

Sf5xeplus (talk) 02:49, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Modern archaeological usage seems to prefer the use of "copper alloy" over "bronze", as depending upon the tin content it may not technically be bronze; but "copper alloy" normally does refer to what most people would call bronze. However, without a metalurgical analysis, we cannot be sure whether it is really bronze or some other copper alloy. The answers to your other two questions are not apparent at this stage, but hopefully they will be answered in due course. The only clear difference is that the face part seems to have been tinned, but not the golden locks, cap, griffin or other parts of the helmet. BabelStone (talk) 12:07, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Etymologically and historically, both bronze and brass can mean 'copper alloyed with some other metal(s)', but in art-historical usage, 'brass' has tended to be used chiefly to describe a copper/zinc mixture and 'bronze' a copper/tin composition. There are other copper alloys too, of course, and as Babelstone has said, you can't usually tell what the alloy is without doing an XRF analysis. The use of the clumsy term 'copper alloy' to replace the perfectly acceptable generic term 'bronze' has established itself firmly in archaeological terminology over the last 30 years or so, and is unlikely to be unseated any time soon.  :) AgTigress (talk) 15:01, 8 October 2010 (UTC)


According to a few resources - latest BBC video with expert - the helmet is mid 1st to 2nd century AD. Can we find more evidence for the dates so we can correct? Londonclanger (talk) 10:07, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I got "1st-mid-3rd century AD" from the Portable Antiquities Scheme database entry and BM curator Ralph Jackson's report on the helmet, which would both seem to be reliable sources. Of course different experts may have different opinions on the date, though I imagine it is hard to date such an object precisely. Maybe once they have carried out an archaeological examination of the findspot they will be able to get a more accurate date. BabelStone (talk) 12:01, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Aye, that sounds like a sensible approach. Londonclanger (talk) 13:03, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Similarity with Newstead Helmet[edit]

The 1905 Newstead Helmet (still without its own article) looks remarkably similar? See [1]. Martinevans123 (talk) 20:13, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

But made from iron -- started work on it. BabelStone (talk) 20:46, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
My word, that was quick, I feel quite important now. Thanks very much! Martinevans123 (talk) 20:52, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Three helmets in 3 days! Victuallers (talk) 17:26, 15 September 2010 (UTC)



Can anyone assure the photographer that Christies would be OK with this? Victuallers (talk) 17:26, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Does "Ancient Art" have the right to license the photo? When I looked at flickr yesterday it was marked as "copyright" with no cc license. BabelStone (talk) 18:54, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
I work in London and am planning to pop down to Christie's on Old Brompton Road next week to see if I can get a couple of shots (if they allow me...). I know there are viewings allowed from their website. If we get copyright agreement, great; if not, hopefully I can get a shot. Londonclanger (talk) 12:30, 17 September 2010 (UTC)
It'd be really great if you could take a photo of it if it is on public display, although I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't allow photography. I think there is zero chance of Christie's releasing any pictures under a Wikipedia-friendly licence, so if it does get sold abroad or to a private collector we may never be able to get a usable picture unless we can take one ourselves. BabelStone (talk) 23:19, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Here are some pictures of the auction: under cc-by. These were specifically noted by Daniel Pett from the Portable Antiquities Scheme as being made that way to help WP:!/portableant/status/26650916903 Witty Lama 14:11, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

That really is a magnificent picture, better even than the Christie's catalogue pictures. Very many thanks to Dan, who has been extraordinarily supportive of us, providing pictures for several articles. BabelStone (talk) 18:08, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

CE v. AD[edit]

That flickr account has the date as CE Common Era. I'm not expert on how Wiki handles dating between AD and CE etc. Anyone have a clearer steer on usage? Londonclanger (talk) 12:34, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

The Manual of Style states that both BC/AD and BCE/CE are OK, and no preference is given to either system (see WP:ERA); so basically respect whatever system is in use for any particular article. BabelStone (talk) 23:24, 17 September 2010 (UTC)


"but has been cleaned and restored to its original form by Christie's auction house.[4]. This restoration was undertaken before the helmet could be subjected to scientific examination by experts at the British Museum" How was this alloowed to happen if the find had been reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme? Surely there was a system failure somewhere here is Sotheby's were able to 'restore' the piece and destroy valuable archaeological evidence in the process? Why wasn't it worked on by museum conservators, given its undoubted importance? I'm shocked to read about this. (talk) 16:46, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

The helmet (still in pieces) was registered with the PAS, but as it falls outside the scope of the 1996 Treasure Act they had no right to retain it, and so it was returned to the owner to do with as he wished ... in this case to take it Christie's to put on auction. There has been a lot indignant mutterings on the internet that the law should be amended in light of this find, but as it stands single items that are not made of gold or silver are not covered by the act. BabelStone (talk) 19:21, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

The untimely cleaning and restoration by Christie's is, indeed, shocking and deeply regrettable, as it has almost certainly removed potentially valuable evidence, but as Babelstone has rightly said, there is no legal framework that could have prevented it. Only an antiquities law that presumes every archaeological find is state property could do that, and there is no prospect of such a law, even though the 1996 Treasure Act covers far more than its common-law predecessor. AgTigress (talk) 14:50, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Public appeal still ongoing?[edit]

Before the auction we had: "A public appeal, by the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Cumbria, is under way to purchase the helmet, with a target of between £300,000 and £400,000." But now that the helmet has been sold for £2.3M. Presumably the new owner will not wish to sell in any case. So will the appeal have to close? Will any donations be returned? Martinevans123 (talk) 18:20, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. That section now makes sense again. But am still curious to know how much was collected by the appeal and where it will now go. Martinevans123 (talk) 19:12, 7 October 2010 (UTC)
Me too ... I guess we'll just have to wait and see. BTW, £2.3m is an incredible price, does anyone know if this is a record? How about List of most expensive archaeological artefacts to complement List of most expensive paintings ? BabelStone (talk) 19:19, 7 October 2010 (UTC)
Incidentally, I have proposed the helmet for ITN. BabelStone (talk) 19:22, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

What happens next[edit]

The appeal started by Tullie House should now move into a new phase, because what happens next is this: assuming (as we probably can) that the buyer is based overseas, he cannot take the artefact out of the country without an export licence, because it is an archaeological find. When he applies to the Export Licensing Unit of the MLA for a licence, the request will be placed before an Expert Advisor: if he/she objects to the export, the case will then be put before the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest. If that committee concludes that the helmet meets one or more of the three Waverley Criteria, they will recommend to the Secretary of State that an export licence be withheld for a given period of time, to give a British buyer/institution time to try to raise the money. If that succeeds, the foreign buyer may still refuse to sell, but he will get no licence, and will therefore have to keep the object in the UK; he can't export it. If all attempts by a British institution to meet the price fail, then a licence has to be granted, and the object leaves our shores. This system has been in use since 1952, and generally works pretty well. It is an attempt to balance the power of the state against the legitimate rights of private owners, including landowners, and dealers. European Human Rights legislation has, more recently, underlined that aspect. France, however, enjoys a state right to overrule the market and private ownership in such matters, and would be able to ban the export of a piece like this in any circumstances. Attempts to create this kind of antiquities legislation in England and Wales have never got off the ground; the concept was addressed during the many phases of the evolution of the present 1996 Treasure Act. Even our treasure law, since the 1920s, has always been based on the acquiring institution paying the full market value, though in the case of treasure, as a reward to the finder rather than a purchase price, since treasure belongs not to the finder, but to the Crown. There is no way out of museums having to raise the money, in this country.

My point is that Tullie House's fundraising efforts should not come to a halt, and may yet be crowned with success, though it is a heck of a lot of money for such an object. Incidentally, I think that Roman glass vessels have fetched equally high prices in the past, but I would have to check. AgTigress (talk) 15:59, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Glass vessels? - so last year, don't you think. But seriously, thank you for all that very useful information. Which Secretary would that be? (Sounds like a few quangos there that the government might want to abolish). Could any of this informationb be added to the article, or is it already elsewhere? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 16:03, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm wrong about the glass anyway. The Constable-Maxwell cage-cup only fetched half a million, which amazed me. I was sure it was over £1m! However, I think the Portland Vase, if it were sold, would trump the helmet...  :)

Sec. of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives) which comes under the umbrella of the DCMS is, indeed, being abolished, but I suspect that the Reviewing Committee will simply slip sideways into some other niche; it has been under many different umbrellas over the decades. Information on the Reviewing Committe can be found on the DCMS website. I don't think anything needs adding here just now, but of course additional paragraphs will be needed (1) when the helmet comes before the Committee, and (2) when we learn what the final outcome will be. I just put the info. in here to explain why Tullie House should not give up yet. Frankly, we all feared this would happen — though I was envisaging something closer to £1m than £2.3m. What really angers me is that Christie's, by doing the restoration, have simultaneously raised the price and reduced the archaeological information. AgTigress (talk) 16:14, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that's clever that, isn't it. Don't they also get a little commission from the sale? Martinevans123 (talk) 16:19, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Commission? Oh yes, indeed!

The Reviewing Committee link is here: and reports on cases can also be found on the DCMS site, as well as the list of current members of the committee. That could go into the article in due course, if (or probably when) the helmet gets to that phase. AgTigress (talk) 16:32, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the great explanation of what is likely to happen now, but I agree that we need to wait for further developments before adding in any of this. BabelStone (talk) 23:22, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Wearing of the helmet[edit]

How was this helmet worn — did the back part hinge, or was there some other way it was attached?

Was it custom made for a particular person so that the profile of the face would fit precisely, with the eyes directly behind the eyes of the helmet?

Was the large crest designed to accommodate a particular sort of topknot or bun for the wearer's long hair?

Did the patterned hair of the helmet represent an actual hairstyle in use during those times? Wnt (talk) 19:45, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

The face-masks and the head-pieces are made separately, and as far as I recall (I am not an armour expert), hinges and straps are required for assembly, as they are for many elements of Roman legionary and auxiliary armour. I don't think that the face-mask needs to be bespoke: adult human faces tend to be sufficiently close in size, especially within one sex, for the large eye-holes to be adequate for almost any wearer. The shape of the head-piece in this case is simply intended to reproduce the form of a Phrygian cap; the wearer's own hair would have been short. Compare the Ribchester helmet, which has a completely different form of head-piece. No, the hairstyle is not one that would be current amongst Middle Empire soldiery: it was intended to evoke a mythological type.  :) AgTigress (talk) 21:33, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

Is this normal practice[edit]

Isn't this controversial? Does British law allow this kind of treasure hunting? Is any dunce with a metal detector allowed to dig up priceless artifacts and hock them to private collectors? Hasn't anyone condemned this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Metal detectors and their use are perfectly legal in Britain, and do not require licences of any kind. The law permits anyone to excavate or search on his own land, unless it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, in which case there are many rules and constraints. Anything he finds on his own land is his own property, unless it comes under the provisions of the 1996 Treasure Act (previously the medieval common law of Treasure Trove). Thus, if you find a Medieval bronze buckle, or a prehistoric stone axe, while digging your own garden, it belongs to you: but if you find a pot containing a hoard of Roman silver coins, it is potential treasure, which will belong to the Crown, and must be declared. However, as the finder, you still have certain rights. There is no legal obligation to declare non-treasure antiquities at all, but the proportion of finds actually declared has increased enormously since the Portable Antiquities Scheme was instituted. There is now far less secret and illicit digging going on than there was 15–20 years ago.
People who search on other people's land are trespassing unless they do so with the full knowledge and permission of the landowner. Most metal detectorists are very careful these days to sign formal agreements with the landowner when searching on land other than their own. The usual arrangement is that if anything of value is found, the finder (who is not legally entitled to anything in the case of a non-treasure find) and the landowner share any proceeds 50/50. Clearly a detectorist who searches land without permission and removes any finds is guilty of both trespass and theft, but there is no question of that in this instance.
Scottish law differs from that of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in that all archaeological finds come under the Treasure definition. In practice, this, and similar provisions in other countries in which all Bodenfunde are State property, tend to be sadly ineffective in preventing illicit trading in antiquities; on the contrary, such laws seem to promote illegal activity, while laws that actually permit private ownership and sale seem to encourage transparency. A case like the present one is depressing at first sight, but it must be set against the fact that the majority of metal-detectorists act with rather greater generosity and respect for the public good than the finder of the helmet. If the law were 'stricter' in the way that seems more appropriate for the protection of the national heritage, there would have been a strong likelihood that the archaeological establishment might never have heard about this find at all, let alone had the opportunity to record and examine it: there have been many cases in the past where important finds suspected or even known to have been found in the UK have first been seen as 'unprovenanced' items in overseas collections, illegally unearthed, illegally sold, and illegally exported. For anyone who is familiar with the subject, I need only say 'Icklingham'. AgTigress (talk) 12:35, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Crosby Garrett Helmet/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Sarastro1 (talk · contribs) 19:25, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Overall, this is really well-written and interesting. I have a few minor suggestions, but nothing major. I am slightly more concerned over the sourcing, however.

Prose, etc:

  • "is a brass Roman cavalry helmet dating to the late 1st to mid 3rd century AD": Perhaps "dating from between", but not a big deal.
  • I've amended the wording. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Apart from the quotation, is there any real need for references in the lead? Everything is mentioned in the main body and referenced there.
  • Fair enough, I've left the ref for the quotation but removed the others. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • "Similar helmets found in Britain are the Ribchester Helmet (found in 1796), the Hallaton Helmet (found in 2000) and the Newstead Helmet (found in 1905), though it has closer parallels with helmets found in southern Europe.": I think this is slightly off somewhere. Why "though"? The two statements are not really contradictory. And closer parallels than what?
  • I've reworded this, see if it works for you now. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • "is an almost complete example of a two-piece Roman cavalry helmet.": Just to clarify, other than the minor things listed in the description, is anything else missing? (Only checking here, no action required)
  • No, just the minor things. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • "Only two other Roman helmets complete with visors have been found in Britain.": Why name them in the lead, but not here? The lead suggests similarity; other than the visor, are there any other similarities?
  • Apparently there are, but the sources I have don't specify them. It will probably be spelled out in more detail when someone publishes a detailed study on the helmet. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Sourcing: There are a couple of places where there are referencing errors, which are easily fixed because it is a simple sourcing mix-up. It may be worth checking that there are no more of these.

  • I'm slightly uncomfortable effectively using the Christie's catalogue for a source on how unique and amazing this helmet is. I also ponder whether source 5 is overuse a little, but I would not insist on any action on either of these points. I would just encourage the nominator to ponder a little as well, particularly before considering taking this forward to FA.
  • I don't think there's any particular problem with the Christie's catalogue. It doesn't say anything that contradicts the specialists' accounts. Source 5 is necessarily used a lot as it's (in the words of the magazine that published it) "the fullest report yet on its discovery, appearance and modern fate". Only a few specialists saw the helmet before it was sold, and that article is their write-up of it. There literally isn't a better source available yet. Prioryman (talk) 19:14, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • "The helmet and visor were cast from an alloy consisting of an average of 82% copper, 10% zinc and 8% tin. This probably represents a low-zinc brass with some tin added to improve the quality of the casting. Some of the fragments show traces of a white metal coating, indicating that the visor would originally have been tinned to give the appearance of silver.": This information is not present in the given ref, but is included in the current ref 5.
  • "The visor is a cavalry sports type C (H. Russell Robinson classification) or type V (Maria Kohlert classification)": Not in the given reference, but instead in current ref 5.
  • "The helmet was found in 33 large fragments and 34 small fragments": Not in given source, but in current ref 6.
  • "the goddess of vengeance and fate; both were often associated with gladiatorial combat and were symbolic agents of death.": Perhaps I'm missing something, but I can't find this in the given ref.
  • I've sorted these out. Prioryman (talk) 21:05, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Close paraphrasing issues (these are the only ones I found; I checked a lot more having found these, but there were no other problems that I could see). I think some of these are way too close for comfort, and it is always far better to be safe than sorry. I would suggest re-wording these quite a lot.

  • Article: "and was probably cast from scrap metal. The metal has been subject to some leaching during its burial, but when new the visor would have appeared silver and the headpiece would have been a coppery yellow colour."
  • Source: "It is likely that it was cast from scrap metal; the composition is almost unique for Romano-British copper alloy (these measurements are all from the surface, and may partially reflect leaching of elements such as zinc during burial). When new, the face would have looked silver and the head piece a coppery yellow colour."

  • Article: "had been detecting with his father in the field and one adjacent for some years but had previously only found a few small artefacts, including some Roman coins."
  • Source: "The field and one adjacent, both under rough grass, had previously yielded only small artefacts (including a few Roman coins)"

  • Article: "There was no known Roman garrison in the immediate vicinity of the discovery, but the area was strategically placed on the route to the northern frontier of Roman Britain, and so there would have been a substantial Roman military presence in the area."
  • Source: "Although no Roman garrisons are documented in the immediate vicinity, the findspot lies in an area with a substantial Roman military presence on a key route leading to the northern frontier."

  • Article: "The finder did not initially realise that he had found a Roman artefact and thought at first that it was a Victorian ornament. He eventually realised what it was after searching the internet, and consulting dealers and auction catalogues."
  • Source: 'The finder's first thought was that the object was a Victorian ornament, and only after searching the internet and consulting dealers and auction catalogues did he realise it was Roman."

  • Article: "Unlike combat gear, which belonged to the army and had to be returned, cavalry sports equipment appears to have been commissioned and bought privately by its wearers. It was evidently retained by them after they completed their service. Both helmets and visors have been found in non-military contexts, as well as in and around forts."
  • Source: "and unlike combat gear, which the men had to return when their service ended, cavalry sports equipment is likely to have been privately commissioned and bought. Helmets, especially the visor masks, are widely found, not just in and around forts but often in graves and other non-military contexts."
  • Reworded all of the above. Prioryman (talk) 21:05, 3 January 2013 (UTC)


  • Images fine.
  • One dablink: "Spectrometry"
  • I've no idea which of the possible dabs this should go to, so I've delinked it. Prioryman (talk) 21:05, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • As I say above, there are a couple of points about this article which are slightly uncomfortable, and the number of sourcing issues is a concern. However, if these points are addressed, and if the nominator could have a quick check for any similar points I may have missed, I would still be happy to pass as this is a good piece of work. And I am fairly confident that there are few or no other issues in the article. I will place on hold for the moment. Sarastro1 (talk) 20:24, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Final comments: I think we are more or less OK. The penultimate close paraphrasing issue is still vaguely similar, but to be fair I'm not sure there is a better way to do it. Therefore, I am happy to pass this now. I added one ref to the article to cover the Sports Type C thing, as this one seemed to have been missed out. Sarastro1 (talk) 21:49, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

"Between each ear"?[edit]

"The helmet was fastened using a leather strap attached to a decorated rivet between each ear and was well-used."

What does "between each ear" mean? Urgos (talk) 02:24, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

I had always assumed that this helmet, like many others, was held in place by a chin strap, and that the strap attached at two rivet points - one at each ear. I think "between each ear" may be an error. Martinevans123 (talk) 10:48, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
I've tried to clarify based on my reading of the sources, but they are a little unclear, and perhaps contradictory -- are the decorated rivets the same as the iron studs? The side panel of the CA article suggests the decorated rivets were part of the hinge mechanism for joining the mask to the helmet, but the main part of the article says the iron studs would have been attached to a leather strap for the neck. BabelStone (talk) 11:12, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying that. Presumably the visor must have had two hinge pins, one each side? Martinevans123 (talk) 11:27, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 4 external links on Crosby Garrett Helmet. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 20:11, 14 August 2017 (UTC)