NORFOLK Museums Service
Worthing Helmet

Worthing Helment

This Roman helmet was made for display rather than battle. It is a ‘parade’ or ‘sports’ helmet of a type used by cavalrymen for displays and tournaments rather than at war, and is made of thin brass sheet that has been beaten into shape and then gilded. Originally, a separate cap of leather or cloth would have been worn underneath the metal helmet for padding. The identification of this as a cavalry helmet is based on the numeral ‘XII’ scratched on the neck-guard, which must refer to the section, or turma, of cavalry to which the wearer once belonged. Mounted infantrymen, by contrast belonged to units called cohorts that did not have as many as twelve such units.

The helmet is decorated with an eagle’s head, the beak forming the crest, while on either side there are sea-dragons with wings, fins, curling bodies and three-pronged tails. Such a design suggests that the helmet may have been made about 250-300AD in a workshop possibly in the Rhineland or Danube region.

H: 250mm; W: 202mm; D: 225mm

Donated to Norwich Castle by Mrs Rosa Rivett