Three years ago we suggested that anyone who googled Crosby Garrett helmet would think “the reported circumstances of its alleged discovery, form, removal, provenance, secrecy, find spot, restoration, marketing and reporting are mighty rum“. Things haven’t changed it seems. If you want a flavour of it all you could look at Paul Barford’s site. He has devoted several dozen postings to it and you can read them, most recent first, here. You might well conclude that he has a bit of a point. In fact many.
Recently though things have moved on. The helmet has finally turned up at the local museum (on loan) and there has been a conference about it and a booklet and a report. Yet still an awful lot of things that would normally have been put into the public domain remain unexplained. It is not just Paul that has been raising concerns. Professor David Gill for instance has also made many postings about the affair on his Looting Matters blogspot, the latest being here and here. Here’s an extract from his latest, a few days ago, making reference to the study that has just been published. What’s going on?
“Professor David Ekserdjian in his introduction to the newly published study of the Crosby Garrett helmet draws attention to the newly surfaced Resurrection of Christ by Titian [see BBC]. Imagine if the Titian was sent for a quick clean and touch-up in a workshop under the railway arches in London. I would hope that Ekserdjian would be in the vanguard of those raising their voices in protest.Yet when “a hauntingly unforgettable work of art”, to use Ekserdjian’s description of the Crosby Garrett helmet, was sent for a hurried restoration before its sale at auction, the silence appears to have been almost overwhelming.”
Incidentally, it’s worth recalling that this whole mess began because something different was (metaphorically) put on top of the helmet. What we are seeing is the “else”.