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Monday, 21 April 2014

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6,500 pilgrims descend on Carlisle to see Roman helmet

More than 6,500 “pilgrims” have visited a Roman helmet and face mask during its first month on show.

Crosby Garrett helmet photo
The helmet was found in a field near Penrith three years ago

The rare artefact, which dates back to between the first and third century, has been on display at Tullie House museum in Carlisle since November 1.

It was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast in a field in Crosby Garrett, near Penrith, three and a half years ago.

Steve Adcock, a gallery assistant at the museum, said the piece has been creating a stir among visitors, who have come from as far away as Sweden.

He said: “There has been a very positive reaction so far and people have so many questions about it.

“They want to know why it was found where it was, but there is no definite answer to that, how do you put it on, and the most common question is how heavy is it?”

Hilary Wade, director of Tullie House, added: “People seem to be making a pilgrimage to see the helmet and mask.

“It has been absolutely amazing to have it here and has proved a huge success.”

The museum is hoping to boost visitor numbers even further with its latest additions.

Two wooden tridents, which are nearly 6,000 years old and date back to Neolithic times, have gone on show in the Border Galleries.

They were unearthed in a flood plain near Stainton during archaeological excavations shortly before the Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR) was built in 2009.

Mrs Wade added: “They are amazing pieces and we are delighted to have them here.

“There are only four others in the whole country so the display will make a nice addition to the helmet and face mask.”

Andrew Mackay, the museum’s head of collections and programming, said: “The tridents are so rare that they are of national importance so it’s a great thrill to have them available to show visitors.”

Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for highways, added: “It’s important that local people will have a chance to see these unique artefacts.

“Finding ancient objects like these tridents can seem something of an inconvenience when you’re trying to build the road, but we have to appreciate that you only get one chance to preserve history.”

The helmet will be on display until January 26. It will then go on show at The British Museum in London.

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