Cavalry Helmet Fragment

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Roman  helmet crest knob holder




Date Acquired  2006
Location Discovered Balkans
Material  Bronze/Copper Alloy
Dimensions 4.0cm long x 1.4cm wide
Roman Empire 1st to 2nd Century AD

(Please see Note at end for an alternative identification)

A bronze helmet crest knob for a Roman helmet.  The knob starts like most non-crested ones do, however once it begins to narrow it suddenly widens again to  three raised ridges running in parallel.  The next section consists of a cylinder type shape with a central section removed vertically.  Essentially two vertical halves of a cylinder, with a flat top. 

The indented remains of the pin hole near the very top is apparent.  This hole shows on both side, which at one time would have allowed a securing pin to hold the crest in place, through the open slit.

A rivet end remains at the bottom where it would have been attached to the Iron or Bronze helmet. (and then flattened behind to secure it)  A nice smooth green Patina remains over the item, with some partial encrustations in the slotted area.

A uniquely shaped knob, in that many of the known examples that I am aware of relate to the usual knobs with "worksite" type modifications to it.  Many of the known examples appear to have been cut and drilled into after they were cast and/or already attached to the helmet.  This is evident by the layered saw marks etc. 

This example clearly was cast from one mold, and appears to not have been modified once produced.  It was created solely for allowing a crest to be attached to a helmet.  Only higher ranking Roman soldier would have been outfitted with full crests (such as the Centurion), indicating that this was designed for that sole purpose.

Please visit Legio XX and their great page on crests and crest holders.

Example of a crest knob of the usual style.


An alternative view held my Dr. Mike Bishop is that the item is not in fact a helmet crest knob, but the attachment for the handle of a Roman Mirror.  Unfortunately no photographic/parallel examples have been identified and no confirmation can be made at this time.  Please advise if you can such confirmation.

Click on Pictures for higher resolution

Bottom View



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(1) Reference to similar items: BISHOP, M.C & COULSTON, J.C.N; Roman Military Equipment "From the Punic wars to the Fall of Rome", page 105 2006.


**Note on background. A Fresco from the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The interior walls of a wealthy Roman's Estate 79AD. Picture taken July 2005.