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A Roman Montefortino helmet (Carnuntum).

The Montefortino helmet was a type of Celtic, and later Roman, military helmet used from around 300 BC through the 1st century AD with continuing modifications. This helmet type is named after the region of Montefortino (frazione of Arcevia) in Italy, where a Montefortino helmet was first uncovered in a Celtic burial. (see the original one) The Montefortino helmet originated in the 4th century BCE and was influenced by Etruscan and Celtic helmets.[1][2] The helmet was brought to Italy by the Senones[3] and it was the most popular helmet amongst the Roman army during the Republican period.[4] The Montefortino helmet remained the most popular Roman helmet until the first century CE. Although in the Roman military it was replaced by the Coolus helmet, it continued to be used by the Praetorian guard.[5][6]


Achilles' surrender of Briseis to Agamemnon, from the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, fresco, 1st century AD, now in the Naples National Archaeological Museum; soldiers in the background can be seen wearing the Montefortino helmet
Development of the
legionary helmet or galea

Montefortino helmets are generally characterized by a conical or round shape with a raised central knob, and a protruding neck guard as well as cheek plates to protect the sides of the head. The cheek pieces were attached to the helmet through D-shaped rings riveted to the rear of the helmet.[7] Plumes were attached to the raised central knob.[8] It had a curved head to deflect sword blows and arrows and a neck guard to protect against slashes.[9][10] Other common features include a "rope"-type pattern around the edge, and "pinecone"-type patterning on the crest knob. Note that the classifications are those used by archaeologists, rather than Celts or Romans, who, if they did distinguish among these types, have left no known record of the terms they used.

In the Roman Republic, the Montefortino helmet was the first stage in the development of the galea, derived from Celtic helmet designs. Similar types are to be found in Spain, Gaul, and into northern Italy. Surviving examples are generally found missing their cheek pieces (probably because they were made of a perishable material which has not survived, e.g., leather)[11] though a pair of holes on each side of the helmet from which these plates would have hung tend to be clearly identifiable, and examples which do include cheek pieces show clearly how these holes were used.

Roman versions sometimes contain inscriptions of the name of the soldier who wore the helmet. Earlier helmets in the type are generally more decorated, as the Republican legions were composed of levied men who paid for their own equipment. As the Roman army moved into the huge period of growth at the end of the 2nd century BC, cheap, undecorated but effective helmets needed to be mass-produced for the mainly poor legionaries.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Bishop, M. C.; Coulston, J. C. (2006-04-22). Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome, second edition. Oxbow Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-78570-397-3.
  2. ^ Daly, Gregory (2005-08-18). Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War. Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-134-50712-2.
  3. ^ Deligiannis, Periklis. "Helmet types of the Etruscan Armies": 4. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help),
  4. ^ Canestrelli, Gioal (2022-11-04). Celtic Warfare: From the Fifth Century BC to the First Century AD. Pen and Sword Military. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-3990-7020-1.
  5. ^ Adkins, Lesley; Adkins, Roy A.; Adkins, Both Professional Archaeologists Roy A. (2014-05-14). Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. Infobase Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8160-7482-2.
  6. ^ Oleson, John Peter (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford University Press. p. 700. ISBN 978-0-19-973485-6.
  7. ^ Campbell, Brian; Tritle, Lawrence A. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World. Oxford University Press. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-19-049913-6.
  8. ^ Taylor, Michael J. (2020). "Panoply and Identity During the Roman Republic". Papers of the British School at Rome. 88: 44–45. doi:10.1017/S0068246220000033. ISSN 0068-2462. S2CID 224916005.
  9. ^ Fields, Nic (2014-06-20). Alesia 52 BC: The final struggle for Gaul. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78200-923-8.
  10. ^ Fields, Dr Nic (2008-10-16). Warlords of Republican Rome: Caesar Versus Pompey. Pen and Sword. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-84415-830-0.
  11. ^ "Roman Military Equipment: Helmets". Archived from the original on December 9, 2022. Retrieved 2023-04-06.