Friday 1 May 2020

Ten Years Ago...

PAS photo
Ten years ago a pair of metal detectorists were wandering across an upland area at Crosby Garrett 77km from home and dug a hole in the middle of a grass-covered earthwork of a Roman period homestead. This is where they said they had found the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet. No documentation or photos have been made available of the discovery, documenting the items in the ground. All we have is a scant reported verbal account.

Since then, due to the manner in which it was handled and the delay in archaeologists reaching the site and re-excavating the detectorists' hole a number of questions were first raised, and then remained unanswered. That is no reason however to ignore them. In fact, they are very relevant to the actual history of this object - now in some anonymous collection.

So, I will start with another one. The pieces were, it is said found in one hole, crammed into the face mask that was lying face down in a pit filled with black soil and rubble. The geology, we know from geological maps, is carboniferous limestone. I'm looking at that patina and wondering why it looks as it does. Is this the sort of patina that occurs on Cumbrian artefacts buried on high hilltops on carboniferous limestone?  Unfortunately we don't have too big a sample of them, as there is not a lot of material reported from the adjacent areas. But what we do have in the PAS database tends to look a bit 'crustier' - so has this object been cleaned (or maybe even repatinated) before it reached the PAS?

Roman Army Talk
In particular, I am intrigued by the brown splurge on the chin from a restoration of a hole that is visible in the only photo now available from its earlier life (accompanying an interesting discussion by members of the Roman Army Talk Forum). Who did this?  Who is the lady holding the helmet?

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