UK museum news: Roman helmet goes on display and exhibition explores Tutankhamun’s childhood

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions.

Enigmatic Roman helmet at Fishbourne

A Roman helmet that could have come to Britain before the Claudian invasion is to go on display at Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex.

The ‘Oyster Helmet of Chichester’, one of just four Coolus helmets (a kind of protective headgear mass-produced for lower-status soldiers in the early 1st century AD) known in the UK, was an antiquarian find, recovered from mudflats and acquired by the Sussex Archaeological Society in 1893. Little is known about how it arrived on these shores, but its presence could reflect trade links between Iron Age Sussex and Rome, said Sarah Parker, Property Manager at Fishbourne Roman Palace, or ‘it could have been collected by an antiquarian in Europe centuries after the Romans, and then lost overboard. It could be a Roman soldier kept his Coolus helmet even after newer helmet designs replaced it. Maybe a local person acquired it and decided to dress in Roman gear.’

IMAGE: Sussex Archaeological Society.

The helmet will be displayed from early April, throughout the spring and summer. For more information on Sussex Archaeological Society and its properties, see CA 379 and www.sussexpast.co.uk.

300-year-old love message embroidered in hair

A 300-year-old bedsheet embroidered with human hair will be among the objects in the Museum of London Docklands’ upcoming Executions exhibition, it has been announced.

The sheet, which has never been on display before, was decorated with loving words, flowers, leaves, and a heart-shaped wreath by Anna Maria Radclyffe in memory of her husband, James Radclyffe, third Earl of Derwentwater and grandson of Charles II, who was beheaded for treason on 24 February 1716, following his involvement in the first Jacobite rebellion.

Beverley Cook, Curator of Social & Working History at the Museum of London, said: ‘This embroidered bed sheet is an extraordinary item, which would have taken months or years to create… It is just one of the many personal stories in the exhibition that reveal the impact of public execution on the lives of Londoners over centuries – a city that witnessed the brutal death of so many, from ordinary Londoners to some of history’s most high-profile cases.’

IMAGE: Museum of London.

Executions, which runs from 14 October 2022 until 16 April 2023, will explore the social, cultural, and economic impact of public executions over 700 years. For more information, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/whats-on/exhibitions/executions.

Exploring Tutankhamun’s childhood

A new exhibition exploring Tutankhamun’s childhood and the experiences of children in ancient and early modern Egypt will open at the Petrie Museum in London in September, as part of a programme of events marking the centenary of the discovery of the famous pharaoh’s tomb in 1922.

Tutankhamun the Boy: growing up in ancient Egypt will focus on the king’s life at the royal sites of Amarna and Gurob, as well as illuminating the people who lived, worked, and played in these cities. The displays will also highlight the children who worked with Flinders Petrie during his excavations of ancient Egyptian sites in the 19th and early 20th centuries; as well as recent research by the University of Cambridge’s Amarna Project, which suggests that children and teenagers were involved in this city’s construction. For more information, see www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2022/feb/new-exhibition-set-bring-tutankhamuns-childhood-life.

New exhibitions

A Trip to Worthing: Downs, town & sea
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Until 19 June 2022

From Julius Caesar to Boadicea: a century of Icenian coins
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Until 2 October 2022

Tutankhamun: excavating the archive
Weston Library, Oxford
13 April 2022-5 February 2023

Building the Wall: celebrating Hadrian’s Wall 1900
Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend
9 April-1 October 2022

Book of Hours
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Until 2 August 2022

Last chance to see

David Abram: ancient sites from the air
Salisbury Museum
Until 15 May 2022