Iconic Helmets of History

  1. Ribchester Roman Cavalry Helmet

Buy a full size replica of a Ribchester Roman Cavalry Helmet from the Knight Shop

The Ribchester Helmet is a Roman ceremonial helmet made of bronze, dating back to the 1st and 2nd  centuries AD. The helmet is named the Ribchester as it was discovered by a clog maker’s son in1796, who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire. He discovered a mass of corroded metalwork which proved to be a hoard of Roman military equipment. Ribchester was a Roman cavalry fort and it is likely that the hoard was deposited under a barrack room floor at around 120AD. However, the helmet would not have been used for protection in battle but would have been worn for decorative purposes by elite cavalry troopers of the unit that was stationed there when performing “Hippika Gymnasia” (cavalry sports). The helmet, together with the rest of the collection, was sold to the British Museum in 1814.

Our Ribchester Helmet is handcrafted and all of the brass detailing is embossed by hand. The mask is cast in steel, polished and the detailing is applied in with gold paint. The mask is held in place with a leather strap and it can be removed. This helmet comes complete with a separate padded lining cap (which can be glued in) and can be worn.

  1. Coppergate Helmet

Buy a full size replica of the Coppergate Helmet from the Knight Shop

The Coppergate Helmet, also known as the York Helmet, is an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon helmet found in York. It was discovered in May 1982 during excavations for the Jorvik Viking Centre at the bottom of a pit, thought to have once been a well. Tests taken on the helmet showed that it dates back to the second half of the 8th Century and would have been made from iron and copper alloy. The ‘crested helmet’ consists of four parts: an iron skull cap with brass edging and decorations, two iron cheek guards with brass edging, and camail protecting the neck. This design was popular throughout England and Scandinavia from the sixth through to the eleventh centuries. The helmet is easily the best preserved Anglo-Saxon example ever discovered in Britain, so well preserved in fact, Latin inscriptions on the helmet could be made out and translated. The helmet inscriptions read, IN NOMINE : DNI : NOSTRI : IHV : SCS : SPS : DI : ET : OMNIBVS : DECEMVS : AMEN: OSHERE : XPI translating as “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Spirit of God, let us offer up Oshere to All Saints. Amen.”

The helmet forms part of the permanent collection of the Yorkshire Museum and has been included in many public exhibitions since its discovery.

Our Coppergate Helmet replica is handcrafted from steel and brass with many intricate details that are hand finished after casting – in the same way the original helmet was made over a millennia ago. It features hinged cheek pieces, adjustable leather spider lining and chin strap, and a butted steel (zinc plated) chainmail ‘aventail’ to protect the neck. Constructed from 18 gauge steel and not recommended for contact reenactment.

  1. Sutton Hoo Helmet

Buy a full size replica of the Sutton Hoo Helmet from the Knight Shop

In 1939, archaeologists in Britain unearthed a discovery from 1,300 years ago. Inside a grassy mound at Sutton Hoo, in Suffolk, they found the remains of an Anglo-Saxon ship, possibly the tomb of a 7th-century nobleman. The wooden ship had rotted away, but its outline and some of the treasures buried with it remained. Among the gold, silver and iron was a sword, a shield and this warrior’s helmet, probably the most famous of all Anglo-Saxon museum treasures.

Made of iron, with decorated panels of bronze covered with tin, the Sutton Hoo helmet is a very rare find. Only three other helmets of this age have been found in England. It was made with great skill for a great man. Probably a nobleman of the Angles, the Germanic people who settled in Eastern England after the end of Roman rule in Britain. No body was found in the ship-grave, but there are clues which tell us when it was buried.

The helmet was badly damaged, crushed when the wooden burial chamber collapsed with age and the weight of soil above. Experts put together the fragments, to rebuild it, and also make a modern replica. Experts were impressed by its structure and design, with its face-mask with eye sockets, eyebrows and nose. Each eyebrow ends in a boar’s head, and between the eyebrows is a dragon-head. Nose, eyebrows and dragon together make the shape of a bird with spreading wings. Panels on the helmet are decorated with battle scenes and animals. One scene shows a man on a horse fighting a fallen enemy, another shows two warriors with swords and spears. Our replica is handcrafted from steel and brass and features hinged cheek pieces and a leather lining. It is a unique and unusual display piece that never fails to impress and the adjustable leather liner allows it to be worn if you so wish.

  1. Great Helm Helmet

Buy a full size replica of an Early Great Helm Helmet from the Knight Shop

The great helm helmet, also named the pot helm, bucket helm and barrel helm, is a helmet of the High Middle Ages which arose to popularity in the late twelfth century, worn mostly by the Crusades of the Knight Templars and remained in use until the fourteenth century. The barrelled style was also used by knights in most European armies from 1220 to 1350 AD. In its simplest form, the great helm was a flat-topped cylinder of steel that completely covered the head and had only very small openings for the eyes and mouth. Although the great helm offered vastly superior protection than previous helmets, such as the nasal helm, it had limited peripheral vision, and in addition to being heavy, provided little ventilation resulting in wearers quickly overheating in hot countries on crusade. Even though the helmet was of simple design, the helmets were often adorned with decoration such as crosses, crowns and lions – the crosses often helped with the ventilation process.

The great helm is today especially popular amongst live-action role players and in medieval re-enactment due to its ease of construction and use of inexpensive materials. Our Great Helm is constructed from 18 gauge lacquered steel and is great for display or as part of a costume but we do not recommend ours for re-enactment.