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10 December 2012
Iron Age bronze helmet found in England

A rare bronze helmet dating to the 1st century BCE has been unearthed on farmland near Canterbury, south east England, along with a late Iron Age brooch, and fragments of burnt bone.
     A shallow circular pit had initially been cut into the natural chalk. Into this, the inverted helmet had been placed. Either just before or just after the helmet had been put into the ground, a quantity of cremated human bone had been placed within it. The brooch was within the upper part of the bone deposit, making it likely that the cremated material had originally been contained in cloth or leather, fastened at the top. With no surviving evidence to suggest that the spot had been permanently marked in any way, it would seem the burial was either isolated, or part of a dispersed cemetery.
     Julia Farley, Iron Age curator at the British Museum says: "This is a very exciting find, one of only a handful of Iron Age helmets to have been found in Britain." Dr Steven Willis, senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Kent, said one was known of in Belgium that had also been used as a cremation container. Andrew Richardson, a specialist with Canterbury Archaeological Trust, commented that helmets like these did not originate in Britain and were worn both by Gauls and Romans in the Republican period.
     Currently the bone fragments are being examined and it should be possible to gather information about the individual buried in the helmet.

Edited from BBC News, Past Horizons (5 December 2012)

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