Fragments of Cavalry Helmet

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Roman legionary cavalry helmet fragments bronze


Date Acquired  2006
Location Discovered Macedonia
Material  Bronze/Copper Alloy
Dimensions 23cm long x 10cm wide (largest piece)
Roman Empire 1st to 3rd Century AD

Numerous bronze fragments from a Roman Cavalry Helmet. These fragments make up the rim sections and parts of the walls of the helmet.  The fragments also show a ridge that flows around the rear portion as well as the distinctive double rivet holes consistent with the mounting of the replaceable hinge for the cheek pieces as well as other bronze mounting.

You can clearly see one fragment that forms the ear piece/protector surrounding one of the ears.  This piece has diagonal lines that run along the edge possible imitating hair strands.  Also visible is a piece of bronze that is believed to have been a hook where the large cheek pieces or face mask would have latched onto to keep in place.  The remainder of the fragment gently slopes up to where the helmet would normally have continued.  A small rivet hole also exists near this fragments base, possibly to support the bronze hair decoration to the helmet. 

One segment is actually part of this mounting that would have surrounded the helmet in a hair like pattern.  The hair strands and swirls are clearly visible and show how intricate the design would have been.  A dotted line pattern is also visible and would most likely have continued with the hair pattern.

The bronze segments that are intact are in great shape and a beautiful patina covers the pieces.  Numerous other smaller fragments remain as can be seen in the photos. Unfortunately nothing is known about any larger pieces of this helmet beyond.

Also found with these helmet fragments was the remains of a spear tip.  This would indicate that they were buried together with the helmet perhaps in a grave.

These helmets are believed to have been used for sporting events called the   “Hippika Gymnasia” which was a sort of sporting event.  This event utilized skill in weapons, spear throwing and numerous other warrior feats on horse. This was all done with specially decorated armor by the 3rd Century AD.  This armor would never have been worn for combat, but used in these events alongside the standard chain mail/scale mail. (1)(3)

There are however more recent opinions that suggest that these helmets were also utilized in pitched battles much like the later Medieval Knights would have used full face helmets.  These helmets would have looked fearsome and had a psychological effect on the enemy troops, although the masks would have been hard to see through due to the small eye holes.  This limited view however was not necessary in a full charge as later knights mimicked.  The more open and common Cavalry helmets would have been used for patrols where getting a good view was more important. (2)

View the full helmet examples below to see how some of the style show up in these fragments.


Click on Pictures for higher resolution

Reverse View of fragment

Alternative View of fragment

Remaining View of fragment

Remains of Spear found with helmet

Complete Example with hair curls

Complete Example with hair curls and ear covers

Early Montefortino style with two rivet holes for cheek pieces.

Reverse View of fragment

Alternative View of fragment

Remaining View of fragment

Spear found with helmet close up View

Complete Example with similar ear covers

Complete Example showing rim with rivet holes.








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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 149-151 2002

(2) References to similar items: I.P STEPHENSON & K.R DIXON; Roman Cavalry Equipment, page 22-24 2003

(3) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; The Cavalryman, page 22 & 29 2000.

**Note on background. A Fresco from the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The interior walls of a wealthy Roman's Estate 79AD. Picture taken July 2005.