In September 1878 the British Museum received a donation of a folded metal plate which had been embossed and gilded. Restoration of the object revealed that the folded plate was in fact the outer casing of a Roman copper alloy cavalry sports type helmet which dates to the late second or third century AD. The story of what became known as the Guisborough helmet began 14 years earlier in what was then the North Riding of Yorkshire when workers employed by the Cleveland Railway Company discovered a ‘very curious plate of metal’ during road construction. It appears that the helmet was deliberately prepared for deposition and buried at a depth of c30 cm close to a stream. Examination by the authors suggests that this was a high value item that had been repaired many times. Experimental evidence suggests that the decoration alone required approximately 16 h to fashion.