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The Trimontium Museum Archive

Iron Parade Mask and Helmet: NMS ref X.FRA 121

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This beautiful and near-complete calvary helmet is made of silvered iron and is dated to the first century (Flavian) period. It consists of two portions; a headpiece and a visor mask. The two portions’ complete height is 240mm. The iron parade mask and helmet were discovered in pit XXII at Trimontium (Newstead), along with two other cavalry helmets that were buried in two different pits, specifically in the south and west annexes of the fort.

Cavalry helmets such as this parade helmet would have been used in dramatic calvary exercises (hippika gymnasia). The helmet would have been accompanied by body-armour which would shine alongside the horses’ decorative leather chamfron and most likely with a coloured saddle-cloth that created sound when movement occurred.

Curle’s excavations discovered the helmet severely damaged as it lay on heavy stones. Large portions from the back and right side of the headpiece are missing.  While the upper portion of the forehead is completely destroyed.

The head-piece ends over the neck in a protruding rim, one inch and a half deep, which is coated in bronze and adorned with a chevron pattern. The head-piece is decorated neatly and shows beautiful and elaborate curled hair in perfect condition.


Further information on the three cavalry helmets found during James Curl’s excavations can be found in his published work in 1911 ‘A Roman Frontier Post and its People‘, JAMES MACLEHOSE AND SONS. pp. 164-173.

In 2012, The National Museums of Scotland published a new edition of ‘A Roman Frontier Post and its People‘, edited by Fraser Hunter and Lawrence Keppie. This edition can also provide further guidance on the calvary helmets: pp.153-159.

© National Museums Scotland, X.FRA 121

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