This helmet is only one of five of its kind found in the UK. Experts think that it could have originally belonged to a Roman soldier fighting in Caesar's army, or even a
British or Gallic warrior.
Although this helmet dates from Julius Caesar's invasions in 54-55 BC, Britain didn't become part of the Roman Empire until AD43 during the reign of the Emperor Claudius.
Canterbury Roman Museum have told us the helmet was made for a soldier but was later used to store someone's ashes after a cremation - this is the only example its kind discovered in Britain so far.
Cremated bones were usually buried in pots and the bones inside this helmet are almost certainly those of a woman, not a soldier!
Why was the helmet used as a burial urn? Probably because it was a prized and exotic family item. Perhaps it belonged to the woman’s husband or was worn by an ancestor in battle. We will never know for sure, but the possibilities are intriguing.
Things to think about...
Why do you think so few of these helmets have been found?
Why do you think people were buried with things that meant a lot to them?
Does it look like modern helmets?
You can discover more about this fascinating object at Canterbury Roman Museum's website.
Show Me has lots of resources to help students discover the Roman world, including a general Roman Topic Guide, games and make and do activities.
We have instructions on how to make a Roman shield and a Roman Toga.
To continue learning about the Roman Army, we have a Dress the Roman Centurion game.
Here is a lesson plan focussing on the Roman Army from our partners at Culture Street.
You can find out more about the helmet from Canterbury Roman Museum.
- An extremely rare soldier’s helmet dating from the mid first century BC. The helmet was later re-used as a cremation urn with cremated human remains placed inside it and secured in a bag with a brooch. A small spike found with the helmet may have been attached to the top of it. Helmet dimensions: Circumference above neck-guard: 625mm; circumference around rim, including neck-guard, and incorporating areas of damage: 665mm; maximum remaining height: 145mm; maximum length (front to back): 233mm; maximum width (side to side): 200mm; projecting length of neck-guard at rear: 27mm; width of bands of incised decoration along neck guard: 2.7mm
- This helmet is only one of five of its kind found in the UK. Experts think that it could have originally belonged to a Roman soldier fighting in Caesar's army, or even a British or Gallic warrior.