The Golden Helmet of De Peel: Fact and Fiction

14 January until 4 December 2011

The golden helmet of De Peel, dating from 319-323The golden helmet of De Peel, dating from 319-323

Part of the Archaeology of the Netherlands department will be reserved for temporary exhibitions about subjects in Dutch archaeology. This exhibition about the Golden Helmet of De Peel was the first in the series.  

Spectacular find in the marshlands

One hundred years ago, the peat-cutter Gebbel Smolenaars made a spectacular find in the marshlands of De Peel. On 15 June 1910, while digging for peat, he found something very different: a silver-gilt helmet from the Roman period. He also discovered a fibula (brooch), a spur, harness bells, and Roman coins. The helmet was polished and put on display at Smolenaars's cottage, where visitors paid ten cents for a chance to admire the treasure. It was later sold to the National Museum of Antiquities.

Fact and fiction: Tales of the Roman helmet

This small-scale exhibition explores not only the Roman helmet itself, but also the stories told about it over the past 100 years. How did a soldier's golden helmet end up in the marsh? Who was the mysterious knight of De Peel? And did the peat-cutters find the entire hoard of treasure? Over the past hundred years all these questions have received many different answers, some based on the facts and some on fiction. The helmet has stirred many people's imaginations. It was a magnificent find, one of the leading twentieth-century archaeological discoveries in the Netherlands.