A ‘VANISHINGLY’ rare first century Roman helmet found in Northwich is giving historical experts more clues to the past.

Dr Jaime Kaminski, a UK expert on Roman helmets, came to study a Roman Auxiliary cavalry helmet, located in Northwich’s Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse.

The helmet was discovered in 1969 along with hinged cheek pieces and was worn by cavalrymen based in Northwich’s Roman fort, in the area known as Castle.   

Dr Kaminski, of the Sussex Archaeological Society, said: “Complete Roman iron helmets are vanishingly rare in Britain because most simply rusted away.

“This example survived largely intact because it was deliberately buried in a small pit – the owner presumably hoping to retrieve it later – and the surrounding clay helped preserve and ‘mineralise’ the helmet, including its decoration.   

“The focus of my research is to understand how the iron cavalry helmet was made, starting with clues left by the tool marks.

“The Northwich helmet is very impressive because all the decoration on top of the helmet – representing hair – has been astonishingly well preserved.

“No exact parallels of this helmet have survived, but the type is depicted on gravestones from Cologne and Mainz in Germany.”   

Northwich, known as ‘Condate’ by the Romans because it is at the confluence of the River Weaver and River Dane (condate meaning ‘at the confluence of’), was a mixed-infantry and cavalry fort and may have housed up to 26 cavalrymen.

Not only was Northwich in a strategic location, but the local Cornovii evaporated salt from the nearby naturally-occurring brine pools, and the Romans were keen to oversee production.

Salt helps the human body sweat and was a vital commodity for Roman soldiers whose life – whether marching, building or fighting – was very physical.

The word ‘salary’ is derived from the word for salt, and salt was given to Roman soldiers as part of their wages.  

Councillor Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The helmet dates from 75–100 AD, and I am pleased that this rare object is still attracting scholars to study it.

“I am also delighted that all these millennia later, the helmet is still in Northwich and available for everyone to see at Weaver Hall Museum.”