Appeal to save rare Roman helmet unearthed in Cumbria

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Media captionThe helmet may have been worn a mark of rank

An appeal to keep a rare Roman bronze helmet in Cumbria has so far raised about £20,000, museum officials said.

The helmet, complete with face mask, was found by a metal detector enthusiast in Crosby Garrett, near Kirkby Stephen, in May.

It is expected to fetch more than £300,000 when it comes up for auction at Christie's in London next month.

A public appeal was mounted by the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle to keep the artefact in Cumbria.

The helmet is believed to be one of only three of its kind to be found in Britain.

The treasure hunter who found it has asked to remain anonymous.

'Tremendous response'

Andrew MacKay, collections managers at Tullie House, said: "I have been burning the midnight oil putting in funding applications.

"I am quietly optimistic that we'll be able to keep this stunning helmet in Carlisle.

"We have had a tremendous response to our public appeal with between £15,000 and £20,000 already pledged."

Mr MacKay said the museum was also hopeful of help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and had the backing of the British Museum.

He added: "I think it's vital that something like this, which was found in Cumbria and will have been worn in Cumbria, stays in Cumbria."

Christie's described the find as an "extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith" and "the discovery of a lifetime" for a metal detectorist.

It is believed that Romans wore the helmets as a mark of rank or excellence in horsemanship.

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