Maybe you’ve met a celebrity.
Phil’s news team met Kristen Davis on the plane over to Johannesberg the other day. We bumped into Olympia Dukakis in Starbucks in Greenwich Village our first time in New York. Diana Spencer’s brother wandered into our local pub in Cornwall once as we sat with our pints.
You never forget these moments: when a face you know well and have heard so much about is right there in front of you.
And I had such a moment today, though I must confess that the celebrities concerned must have died some two thousand years ago.
Regulars will remember my bemoaning the loss of the Crosby Garrett helmet into a private collection. It slipped out of the hands of the Carlisle-based Tullie House Museum, outbid despite its brave effort to raise £1.7 million towards the helmet’s purchase.
The helmet is a true jewel of a find. Discovered by a metal detectorist, in Crosby Garrett, Cumbria, it is a ceremonial helmet; one not used for fighting but for contests. Thus, it is lavish beyond words.
I was sad because the helmet has left the place it belonged. It had been snapped up right in front of the world’s top museums, by who knew who for a private collection.
It now emerges that whoever the private owner is, one thing must be owned: they are nothing if not generous with their acquisition.
When the helmet left Carlisle, after the closure of the exhibition of the helmet at Tullie House on January 26th, it travelled down to London, to the British Museum.
Speculatively, I walked into the Museum today. Felix wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, and Phil the Zoroastrian room. I had half an hour to pack in all the British Museum’s greatest hits.
So I took in the Sutton Hoo collection at a rate of knots, and then turned to climb the stairs to the European galleries, my perennial favourites.
And I was completely unprepared for what lay in wait in the glass case at the top of the stairs.
There it was: the Crosby Garrett helmet. Exquisite, and large as life. For all of us to see and learn from. There, in the most public place possible.
And not only that: its partner was right next to it. The Ribchester helmet gazed levelly out alongside its companion, perusing the tourists who ambled by. Do you know who I am? the two seemed to say. Have you any idea how important and significant we are?
I knew. I squeaked, if truth be told. And I spent quality time there with my Ancient Roman pin-up boys, gazing so I could take them in, noting and photographing the fine details.
They are celebrities of the first order, and I was star-struck.
28 thoughts on “Ancient Roman Pin-Up Boys”
I would have loved to hear you squeak. And so glad you had occasion to do so.
Felix was with me. Painfully pre-teenage, he was trying desperately NOT to be with this squeaking middle aged woman.
We’re such embarrassments to our kids … until they want something. 🙂
*Pops open the bubbly*
Lucky you! Hope I get to the BM before the helmet leaves again.
I don’t know how long they’re meant to be there but I hope it’s a good long time, Chris.
hehehe I love your squeak 🙂 What a wonderful thing that the helmet emerged into the public arena for the fans to admire – they are both fantastic.
Aren’t they? Just wonderful to be able to stand and gaze, Gabrielle. It’s the little details you don’t take in in photographs.
Hope you and the family are all well and the Summer is behaving where you are!
we are having a very well behaved summer – must be feeling guilty after the horrible summer of last year #naughtyfloods
It is a wonder you didn’t do a Snoopy-type dance on the spot.
Have they recorded the name of this benefactor? You need to write him a letter of apology … 🙂
No, I still just have the information ‘A Private Collector’, Col. And though this post is a concession, I’m unrepentant: I still believe this helmet should be in permanent hands of the museums of this country.
Permanent. Yes, that is what should be the case.
There are private collectors wgo are special people – or so it seems!
There are. And for the chance to see this thing up close, I thank this collector in particular.
They are quite amazing.
That’s fantastic, Kate, even if your initial glee made Felix recoil in abject horror. I so hope it is on permanent loan. Ancient artifacts like this helmet should not be tucked away in some fat cat’s library for only select eyes to see. But maybe this is a philanthropic fat cat who gets it. Fingers crossed.
Unrelated, once when I was stepping out to run an errand here at The Grind, I made eye contact with Meryl Streep standing by a sales desk on our first floor. It was surreal. My boss, who was away on business in Chicago on that day, is a huge Meryl fan. When Elspeth returned I spilled my guts about this sighting. She said, “You’re only telling me this now?” Defensive, I said, “But you were away!” She countered, “I would have taken the next flight back!”
Meryl Streep. Now I’m in awe: I’m a huge fan too.
Apparently the helmet’s stay at the British Museum concludes on April 27. Boo.
Three or four years ago, Meryl’s daughter, Mamie Gummer, lived on the first floor of my building with her bf, and later husband, Ben Walker. I think they’re now divorced. Mamie once held the door for me. She was very polite. It’s possible that her mother visited her tiny apartment at least once. I would have completely plotzed if I had seen Meryl Streep entering my brownstone.
Fabulous, Kate. Thanks for telling us about these guys in the first place, and letting us share your joy at happening across them.
Felix will recover, & enjoy telling the tale, in time 🙂
You are probably right, Fiona. The day mother cleared the first floor of the British Museum using only her vocal chords.
Perhaps if the Prime Minister or the Queen offered the private owner a knighthood/earldom or dame/countess he/she may be inclined to loan the helmet in perpetuity to the British Museum.
As it stands the new owner looks like he/she’s poking their tongue out at us and saying look what I’ve got eat, your hearts out,’cos you ain’t goin’ to see it much longer!
Better not to have loaned it at all rather than to have done this for a few weeks; selfish and sad.
I would have squeaked along with you, Kate, and poor Felix would have had not one, but two, squeakers, one of “a certain age”! How fantastic this find was for you!!!
I like your celebrities much better than the ones I have encountered. I experience a “celebrity-sighting” as often as once a month and it’s always interesting, but nothing to “squeal” about. 🙂 But your pin-up boys are MUCH more exciting! I can understand your squeals!
Yay! Glad you got to meet the boys face-to-face and side by side.
I read your blog on dragons and wyverns, etc. and then came back in time to catch this Roman pin-up boy article I had missed. There is a dragon/gryphon on top of one of the helmets, it looks like! Isn’t it? So were the Romans depicting dragons in artwork 2,000 years ago? Now I’m really curious about all these dragons/wyverns/wyrmes/lizards.
Beautiful, Kate. How wonderful that the new owner thought to share these treasures with the public – as it should be. Thank you for sharing. 😉