The production and deposition of the Thames coolus helmet


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Kaminski, Jaime and Sim, David (2012) The production and deposition of the Thames coolus helmet Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 62. pp. 69-87. ISSN 0076-0501

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In 1934 a 1st-century ad copper-alloy infantry helmet was dredged from the River Thames or its Walbrook tributary. The helmet soon found its way into the possession of Father John Ward, an antiquarian, who exhibited it at his museum at the Abbey Folk Park, New Barnet. Here the helmet remained on display until 1940 when the London Blitz forced the museum's closure. After his death in July 1949 much of Ward's collection of antiquities was sold. The helmet was pur-chased by Gerald Gardner from Ward's widow; he then sold it on to the British Museum in 1950, where it has been displayed ever since.The helmet has been examined in detail for remnant tool marks and other evidence of how it was produced. This has allowed a tentative hypothesis to be forwarded regarding the production process. The helmet bowl was raised rather than spun. The dimensional conformity shown on some parts of the helmet reveals that the maker of the bowl was an artisan of some skill. However, the helmet furniture was attached in a haphazard manner with few items aligned correctly. It is possible that the various components of the helmet were manufactured by skilled craftsmen but their attachment was left to semi-skilled labour. The helmet was utilitarian and was produced quickly. Sufficient resources were devoted to the task to make the helmet functional but it was not a finely executed and finished piece.The helmet saw long service, as indicated by four different punctim ownership marks on the neck-guard, and at the end of its period of use it finally ended up in the Walbrook or Thames, where it may have been ritually deposited.

Item Type: Journal article
Depositing User: Converis
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2015 03:00
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2015 08:21

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