Exclusive to The British Museum: a bronze sculpture inspired by the Sutton Hoo helmet, an icon of the early medieval period.
The helmet was discovered at Sutton Hoo, an important archaeological site in Suffolk, England. The original (as shown in the third image) dates to the early 7th century and comprises of an iron cap, neck guard, cheek pieces and face mask with panels decorated with interlacing animal ornament and heroic scenes of warriors.
The face-mask is the helmet’s most remarkable feature. It works as a visual puzzle, with two possible ‘solutions’:
1) The first is of a human face, comprising eye-sockets, eyebrows, moustache, mouth and a nose. The copper alloy eyebrows are inlaid with silver wire and tiny garnets. Each ends in a gilded boar’s head – a symbol of strength and courage appropriate for a warrior.
2) The second ‘solution’ is of a bird or dragon flying upwards. Its tail is formed by the moustache, its body by the nose, and its wings by the eyebrows. Its head extends from between the wings, and lays nose-to-nose with another animal head at the end of a low iron crest that runs over the helmet’s cap.
This reproduction is hand-sculpted from bronze by the artist Peter Lyell of The Bradshaw Foundation - a society committed to the preservation of rock art. The sculpture measures 17cm tall by 8cm wide and forms part of a limited edition of 250.
View the Sutton Hoo Helmet in the British Museum collection here