celtic helmet

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Superb Celtic Silver Kroisbach Reiterstumpf Coin

An exceptional example of abstract Celtic artwork on a coin, this heavy silver tetradrachm was minted by the Danubian Celts of Pannonia (Burgenland) in the 2nd Century BC.  The obverse has a remarkable portrait of a Celtic warrior, in the very finest Danubian style. The male head is shown staring to the heavens, with a long, sweeping brow, crooked nose and exaggerated cheeks, reminiscent of helmet cheek pieces. He wears an ornate diadem, his ear, ponytail and eyes are rendered schematically. The reverse has a Celtic warrior on horseback, galloping left. The rider is composed of a torso and head, his long hair tied into a topknot, with three locks fluttering in the wind behind. The horse is shown powerfully built, with a short mane and large hooves.

We know relatively little of their history but, through objects like this, we can admire their artistic creativity. On each side of the coin we see Celtic warriors, brilliantly transformed into fine, playful and yet striking works of abstract art.  One of the very finest and most pleasing examples of this charming coin type.

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Celtic Bronze Age Helmets, British Museum, 1.8.17. Not so sure about the practical use of these helmets but it’s pretty fair to say that on a battlefield you wouldn’t be easily missed with the first one on your head. These are probably ceremonial and denote status (and possibly fashion sense!)

Celtic Agen/Port Type Iron Helmet, Gaul, 1st Century BC

These Agen/Port type helmets were worn by Gallic warriors around the time of Caesar’s war in Gaul in the 1st Century BC. They come from Agen and Alesia in France and Port Bei Nidau in Switzerland. These Agen/Port helmets were the direct ancestors of the Imperial Gallic Roman battle helmets of later centuries. Made of forged iron, surface restored and varnished.

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Celtiberian Bronze Helmet, 4th century BC

This helmet was hammered from thin metal and decorated with repousse designs. Plain bands crisscross and encircle it, dividing the helmet into quadrants. A square opening has been cut away in the front for the face. Each quadrant contains a motif of three schematically rendered men beneath a “sun circle” ringed with dots. These lively human figures with their arms raised and one foot lifted off the ground seem to be engaged in an ecstatic dance. Dances such as these are described by Roman writers who observed the bellicose customs of the Celtiberians. Two projections along the transversal band of the helmet indicate that it once included an attached ornament or crest.

The Celtiberians were Celtic-speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final centuries BC. These tribes spoke the Celtiberian language. Extant tribal names include the Arevaci, Belli, Titti, Lusones, and Berones. Celtiberians were celebrated for their fine weapons and armor.

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The Waterloo Helmet, 150-50 BC

This copper alloy helmet was dredged from the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge in the early 1860s. It is the only Iron Age helmet to have ever been found in southern England, and it is the only Iron Age helmet with horns ever to have been found anywhere in Europe. This helmet is unlikely to have been used in battle and was probably a form of ceremonial headdress.

The helmet is decorated with the style of La Tène art used in Britain between 250 and 50 BC. The repoussé decoration is repeated on the back and the front. Originally, the bronze helmet would have been a shining polished bronze colour, not the dull green colour it is today. It was also once decorated with studs of bright red glass. The decoration is similar to that on the Snettisham Great Torc.