School of Jewellery helps reconstruct Staffordshire Hoard helmet

Leading academics from Birmingham City University and professionals from across the UK gathered at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to witness the unveiling of the Staffordshire Hoard helmet.

Experts from the University’s School of Jewellery, as well as professionals in wood making, leather and metalworking, have created two replicas of the Anglo-Saxon helmet. An exceptionally rare find, some of the fragments of the hoard were only a few millimetres in size. Leading jewellery and CAD (computer assisted design) professionals from the University worked hard – from using 3D printing and CAD to see how the pieces fit together to even learning a new language - to bring the helmet alive and recreate what would have been worn during Anglo-Saxon times.

Breath-taking jewellery

The unveiling, which took place on Thursday 22 November at the Museum, displayed the breath-taking intricacies and detail of the helmet. “It is a truly awe-inspiring piece of jewellery,” said Frank Cooper, Senior Lecturer and Centre Manager at the School of Jewellery. “To have something that a sixth-century goldsmith would have made is incredible. The craftmanship, quality and design are amazing. It’s a real eye-opener to see what all those little parts consisted of.”

Stephen Bottomley, the School of Jewellery’s Head of School, believes the helmet is testament to the School’s expertise. “It really demonstrates the skills and talents of the School’s technical staff,” he said. “It brings together really in-depth digital knowledge of how to analyse objects from the past, recreate them with the present technologies and explore the immense skills and craftsmanship of past cultures.”

The Staffordshire hoard, originally found by an amateur detectorist in 2009, is thought to have originally been buried between 650 and 700 AD and is currently estimated at being worth around £3.3million.

A collaborative effort

The helmet reconstruction project was made possible through fundraising by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. It is based on a major research project funded by Historic England and the museums. As well as the School of Jewellery, Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries, the helmet reconstruction team also included:

  •        Drakon Heritage and Conservation
  •        Gallybagger Leather
  •        Royal Oak Armoury
  •        Samantha Chilton (metalsmith)