MYSTERY WARRIOR

North Bersted Man by Amy Roberts, Collections Officer at the Novium Museum

Mystery Warrior: The North Bersted Man opened at The Novium Museum on 25th January and tells the fascinating story of the life, health and death of an Iron Age Warrior discovered at North Bersted in 2008. This is no ordinary Iron Age warrior, if there even is such a thing. He is the most elaborately equipped Iron Age warrior to have been found in Britain to date, having been buried with a complete ‘set’ of weaponry including a shield, spear, sword and helmet. The helmet has been customized, and because of this is unlike anything discovered anywhere else in the world.

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What I find particularly relevant about his story are the lessons that it can tell us about the historic movement of people. Archaeology and advances in scientific research are showing us that the movement of people, migration and even conflict migration isn’t a modern phenomenon and that throughout history we have been travelling and resettling to a far greater degree than perhaps most of us would ordinarily have realized. I think at this point in our country’s history it’s actually quite an important message to reflect upon.

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The circumstances of the Mystery Warrior’s burial, the style and form of his weaponry, the results of the isotopic analysis undertaken on him and the burial practices bestowed upon him suggest that the Mystery Warrior was probably originally from the continent, most likely from somewhere in northern France. Experts believe he was probably a conflict migrant, seeking refuge in southern Britain having escaped the inevitable conquest of his homelands by Julius Caesar over 2,000 years ago during the Gallic Wars, a brutal campaign to conquer France for the expanding Roman Empire.

Mystery Warrior: The North Bersted Man © Allan Hutchings Photography

The exhibition helps to put the Mystery Warrior’s story into context by highlighting the little known ties of kinship and trade between southern Britain and the continent during this time.

The exhibition, which is free to visit, is on at The Novium Museum until 26th September 2020. Find out more by visiting www.thenovium.org/mysterywarrior

Why not take a look at our ‘Changing Times’ article on the Mystery Warrior to find out more.

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