DMU artisan re-creates Roman cavalry helmet for Iron Age exhibition

A Roman cavalry helmet unearthed as part of the most important Iron Age discoveries ever made in the UK has been replicated to show how it might have looked some 2,000 years ago.

Silversmith and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) senior lecturer Rajesh Gogna was commissioned to bring the iron helmet, found in fragments in a Leicestershire field in 2001, to life and it has now gone on display.


Painstaking work by archaeologists who analysed the fragments identified the designs which once would have decorated the high-status object.

When it was made, the helmet would have had an iron core covered with silver but the fragments had corroded after so many years in the soil. Leicestershire Museums volunteer Teresa Porciani and archaeological illustrator Debbie Miles identified the image of a woman flanked by lions and rams at the front of the helmet, and two griffins – which in Roman times symbolised military power and protection – at the back.

helmet 3

Mr Gogna, whose research practice focuses on blending new technology with craft practice, took illustrations and details and used CAD modelling and 3D printing to create a re-creation of the helmet which was electroformed, then silver plated and gilded with gold, which he then finished by hand.

He said: “It has been a really exciting project to work on, which was completed over six months”. There was a lot of complexity in creating the renders and a lot of finessing and finishing by hand because there’s so much detail which we wanted to bring out.

“This commission has helped me push my own practice and work with new techniques. It really ties in with my area of interest which is looking at how craftspeople can embrace technology to expand their creativity.”

helmet 2

The two re-creations were produced for Harborough Museum in Market Harborough and Hallaton Museum in the village of Hallaton. The work was funded by the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society.

A third helmet was commissioned from archaeologist and replica maker Francesco Galluccio, based in Rome. His replica was created using traditional tools with which the Roman craftsmen who made the original would have been familiar.

helmet 1

Discovered in 2001, the Hallaton hoard remains one of the most important Iron Age discoveries in Britain. More than 5,000 coins were uncovered in a field near the village along with jewellery, bowls, animal bones and the Roman cavalry helmet. Archaeologists believe the site to have been a type of open-air shrine.

The re-created helmets and the original restored Roman helmet have just gone on display at Market Harborough Museum. Rajesh Gogna’s second re-creation is also on display at Hallaton Museum. For more details, click here
Posted on Tuesday 26 March 2024

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