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The Helmet

The discovery of an Iron Age helmet in Britan is incredibly rare. In fact, the Mystery Warrior's helmet is one of only four to have been found in Britain to date. Many more have been discovered in Europe. What makes the Mystery Warrior's helmet so distinctive is the fact that it has been customised with two unique openwork crests.

The basic underlying helmet found with the Mystery Warrior is of a Coolus type. Similar helmets are found throughout Gaul, but rarely found in the Iberian Peninsula, encompassing Spain and Portugal, where the Roman army is known to have been very active during the Late Iron Age. This tell us that it is unlikely the helmet was of Roman origin.

The Mystery Warrior's helmet would have provided some protection during battle but combined with the breathtaking openwork crest it was more likely about showmanship, authority and intimidation. A pair of chin strap connectors were riveted to either side of the helmet, which would have been essential in preventing the elaborately decorated helmet from sliding off the Mystery Warrior's head.


 

The Mystery Warrior's helmet had been customised with two exquisite and unique openwork crests, creating a headdress unlike anything that has ever been discovered.

The openwork was attached to the helmet using five mounts of varying sizes. The crescent-shaped piece sat laterally across the top of the helmet from ear to ear, whilst the asymmetrical piece was mounted centrally behind the crescent-shaped piece, and ran down the back of the helmet to the neck guard. A U-shaped mount running along both of the crests suggests the headdress would have been finished with a stunning plume, perhaps made from horse or boar hair or from feathers.

Iron Age or 'Celtic' art such as this essentially takes the form of interlocking shapes or motifs which create a complex pattern. This relies on interplay of 'positive' and 'negative' motifs. This can be achieved in a number of ways either through colour, shape, texture or openwork.

Openwork is incredibly rare in Britain and when found, items tend to be on a much smaller scale than the openwork found at North Bersted. Closer parallels to the North Bersted openwork can be found on the continent, including the boar-mouthed carnyx from Tintignac and the boar-shaped standard from Soulac-sur-Mer. In both instances the mane of the boar is depicted in openwork. It is possible that the openwork pieces from North Bersted were also designed to imitate a zoomorphic or animal form such as a cock, bird or boar.
 

The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests
The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests
The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts
A U-shaped mount running along the top of both crests suggests the headdress would have been finished with a stunning plume perhaps made from horse or boar hair, or from feathers A U-shaped mount running along the top of both crests suggests the headdress would have been finished with a stunning plume perhaps made from horse or boar hair, or from feathers
The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts
The Mystery Warrior's Helmet - the mounted openwork crests The Mystery Warrior's Helmet - the mounted openwork crest
Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked
Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked
Thumbnail image of The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests
Thumbnail image of The Mystery Warrior: Bronze Openwork Crests
Thumbnail image of The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts
Thumbnail image of A U-shaped mount running along the top of both crests suggests the headdress would have been finished with a stunning plume perhaps made from horse or boar hair, or from feathers
Thumbnail image of The bronze openwork crests were attached to the helmet by means of five mounts
Thumbnail image of The Mystery Warrior's Helmet - the mounted openwork crests
Thumbnail image of Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked
Thumbnail image of Our replica helmet depicts how the Mystery Warrior's exquisite helmet may would have looked
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