A RARE Roman helmet found in an Eden field by a treasure hunter with a metal detector is to go on display in Cumbria for the first time tomorrow.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet, named after the village near which it was found, was discovered in May 2010 in pastureland in the small hamlet near Kirkby Stephen.

In October 2010 the helmet was sold at Christie's auction house in London for £2.2 million to an undisclosed private buyer. Its guide price was £300,000.

Thwarted bidders included Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle which had been frantically fundraising to buy the helmet.

But now, the striking cavalry helmet and adjoined face mask is to go on display at the museum after the owner agreed a three-month loan.

The copper-alloy helmet, thought to date back 2,000 years, has an appearance of a youthful male face and is only one of three recorded finds of its kind in Britain.

Hilary Wade, director of Tullie House, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to display this beautiful helmet and are grateful to the owner for this generous loan.

"The helmet is one of the most extraordinary objects from the Roman period in Britain. It was made for splendid events rather than battle and shows what a spectacular impression the cavalry would have made.

“The helmet will complement our collections and will add to visitors’ appreciation of the Roman presence in this region.”

The helmet will be in a special display area and will remain at the Carlisle art house until the end of January.

It is being supported by the Art Fund and The Monument Trust.

It will then be transferred to the British Museum, London, for a further three months.

Roger Bland, keeper of the British Museum’s department of Prehistory and Europe, said: “While the exquisite craftmanship of these helmets underlines the Roman technical achievement, their chilling face masks are an almost literal embodiment of the ruthless power of the Roman army.”