Archaeology rocks- Council for British Archaeology

Archaeology Matters

Report from Canterbury

Annie Partridge, currently on placement with the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, talks about an exciting Iron Age ‘Helmet Burial’ found in Kent

spike and brooch

"In October 2012 Canterbury Archaeological Trust were contacted by a local metal detectorist who believed he had found an Iron Age helmet and brooch whilst detecting near Canterbury. Although initially somewhat sceptical our Finds Manager, Andrew Richardson, went and saw the helmet at the detectorists’ house and immediately recognised its significance. 

A small group made up from Dover Archaeological Group and staff from Canterbury Archaeological Trust investigated the find spot on one very cold and windy Saturday, and recovered cremated bone which had been removed from the helmet when the detectorist had taken the soil out. The pit the helmet had been placed in was very small and turned up no other finds.

Until more studies have been carried out on the bone, brooch and helmet we cannot say for certain who wore the helmet, how it came to the UK, or who is buried in it. What we do know is that it is only one of three helmets found from that period in the UK and the only one which had cremated remains inside. Two other ‘Helmet Burial’ parallels are known from Poland and Belgium and further research into those might help shed some light on ours. The brooch has been given a date of 90-50BC and we believe it was used to secure a cloth or leather bag which held the cremated remains.

The helmet will remain in the British Museum for now. We hope that in time Canterbury Museum will acquire it so it may be displayed in Canterbury."     

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