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Sunday, 16 December 2012

British Museum pays tribute to hordes of metal detectorists and their hoards of ancient relics, helmets, coins and weapons


When the battered metal helmet turned up in a field on the outskirts of Canterbury, the archaeologists had to peer at it carefully to be sure it wasn't a relic from a careless American GI in the second world war — albeit one with eccentric tastes, since it contained a mass of burned human bone.

The helmet, revealed for the first time as last year's haul of archaeological finds by metal detectors was unveiled at the British Museum, is in fact an artefact from a much earlier conflict.

It is an exceptionally rare Iron Age Celtic helmet from the time of the first invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar, who landed only a few miles away on the Kent coast. The bones haven't yet been analysed, but the presumption is that they are those of the helmet's owner, who must have been a warrior — and could in those complicated times have been a Gaul fighting either by Caesar's side, or with the defending Britons.

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