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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Mystery man pledges £50,000 to help buy Cumbrian Roman helmet

A mystery benefactor has pledged £50,000 to help buy the rare Roman helmet found in Cumbria.

Roman helmet photo
The Crosby Garrett helmet

Related: Carlisle MP joins campaign to keep Roman helmet in Cumbria

Download: Pledge appeal form

The businessman, who does not want to be named, has promised the money on condition the public match his cash pound for pound.

Tullie House museum in Carlisle is aiming to raise between £300,000 and £400,000 to keep the helmet – which was found in a field in Crosby Garrett in May – in the county.

It is due to be sold at Christie’s in London next week where it has a guide price of between £200,000 and £300,000. Hilary Wade, from Tullie House, said the £50,000 is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to put the helmet on permanent display in Cumbria.

The museum has to raise at least £80,000 in donations from the public, which would then unlock funding from other organisations.

Mrs Wade said: “The message is simple – we need people to come forward to help us raise £50,000 and if we do it creates £100,000 for the appeal fund. The clock is against us but I believe we can do it. If everyone can give even a pound, the benefactor will match it. This will significantly increase the chances of Tullie House having the financial clout to be able to compete at the auction in London, and bring this helmet back to its rightful home.”

The auction is said to have generated huge interest from private collectors because the helmet is one of just three found in the UK and is the finest example of its type. The British Museum in London describe it as “unparalleled” and say it was vital that Tullie House secured it.

Carlisle council leader Mike Mitchelson said : “I cannot emphasise how important this artefact is to the story of the Romans in Cumbria and indeed Britain. It would represent the most important object in the city’s archaeology collections and arguably the finest artefact held in public ownership in Cumbria.”

People can give by going to www.tulliehouse.co.uk/romanhelmet or phone 01228 618743.

The museum, which has so far raised around £32,000, hopes to display the helmet in a new Roman Frontier Gallery opening next June.

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