Archaeology, Archaeology Research

Crosby Garrett helmet goes for £2,000,000

Crosby Garrett helmet awaiting display at Christies

I just watched the Christie’s auction online. I thought things were going well when lots of the items failed to sell, or went for the lowest estimate.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen to the Crosby Garrett Roman cavalry helmet that I analysed a couple of weeks ago. In the end it went for a round £2,000,000.

Well, ultimately £2,281,250 after all the premiums etc are added.

So I guess we can wave goodbye to it, and watch it leave the country to a private collection. I guess it’s possible it was sold to a museum, but that’s a lot of money. I imagine it was a rich private collector. Either way, it was a telephone bid, so I don’t think anyone who was actually present in the room would have found much out about the bidder.

Watching the auction was extremely nerve-wracking. For a while the bid was with someone in the room, and I had hoped that maybe it would be a museum in the UK. But it was not to be.

I’m happy for the finder – doubtless Christies will take a good percentage, as well as a fee for the restoration, but he has to have made some good money. I’m pretty sad about the sale though. As only one of three such helmets to be found in the UK, it was really valuable to us. And the brief surface analysis suggested that it was metallurgically interesting as well.

I hope this will startle legislators into doing something about our Treasure laws. Because the helmet was not gold or silver, it wasn’t considered ‘Treasure Trove’ and protected by the Treasure laws, so there was limited legal protection for it.

I wonder what will happen to the helmet now? I wonder where it will go? Will we ever see it on display in the UK?

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