Due to the significance of the artefacts, a team of world class experts has been working with The Novium Museum to analyse and interpret the finds to tell the story of this incredible individual. After years of conservation and scientific analysis, the artefacts will be on public display for the first time.

The'Mystery Warrior: The North Bersted Man'exhibition has been made possible thanks to Berkeley Homes generously donating the finds, a £50,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and signature sponsorship from Irwin Mitchell.

The 'Mystery Warrior' was discovered 12 years ago by Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd. during archaeological investigations prior to the construction of Berkeley Homes' Bersted Park. Arguably the most elaborately equipped Iron Age grave ever found in England, archaeologists believe he may have been a refugee French Gallic fighter who fled Julius Caesar's Roman army as they swept across continental Europe, around 50BC.

The spectacular finds from the grave will be on display, including a stunning unique openwork headdress and helmet. A replica 3D version of the helmet and headdress topped with horse hair plume has been created to show just how impressive this would have been at the time. The museum team has also commissioned a digital heritage specialist, Grant Cox form ArtasMedia, to create a photo-real visualisation showing an artistic representation of this extraordinary man and his weaponry. The striking centrepiece of the exhibition is the display of the Mystery Warrior and his possessions, showing the layout of the grave and the context in which his armour and grave goods were found.

The exhibition includes hands on activities and a newly commissioned children's story by author and illustrator Tom Tinn-Disbury. A mini-documentary on the making of the exhibition will be on show along with film footage exploring the scientific techniques used to help interpret the Mystery Warrior.  

The British Museum and Hampshire Cultural Trust are also kindly supporting the exhibition with a range of exhibits relating to the Iron Age period from their collections.

Thanks to generous funding provided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Novium Museum has programmed a range of free activities and events to accompany the exhibition. The programme includes Family Days, Community Days and a Lecture Series.

Dr Melanie Giles, a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester, is one of the experts supporting the project: "This is a unique find in the British Isles and the wider continent. We don't have another burial that combines this quality of weaponry and Celtic art with a date that puts it around the time of Caesar's attempted conquest of Britain.

"We will probably never know his name but from the archaeology we believe that he may have been a Frenchman who fought with the Gauls against Caesar and fled that conflict - possibly a real-life Asterix - assisting the resistance with his knowledge of strategy and tactics. He could also have been a British mercenary from Eastern England assisting his allies in France and returning dressed in French-style martial kit like his compatriots, perhaps as a gift for his service."

James Kenny, Chichester District Council's archaeologist, has also been supporting the project and was one of the first people to view the grave when it was discovered in North Bersted: "In more than thirty years of archaeology this is the most spectacular discovery that I have witnessed. What distinguishes this discovery from any other burial in Britain is the breath-taking quality and beauty of the artefacts and the range of his possessions. The warrior had a full suite of weapons, including a stunning sword in a decorated scabbard, a spear and a shield with large bronze boss. One of the most spectacular finds within the burial is the headdress for the helmet. This is decorated with an exquisitely designed bronze openwork crest - a completely unique discovery."

Cllr Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Culture at Chichester District Council, adds: "We are delighted to launch this incredible exhibition and to reveal the Mystery Warrior's fascinating story for the very first time. The exhibition will explore the life, health and death of the Mystery Warrior and will attempt to explain some of the questions that have been raised by the circumstances of his burial. It will illuminate a critical point in Britain's history — the years immediately preceding the Roman invasion, when the south coast was at the heart of the great events that ultimately shaped Britain as a nation.

"People can also experience life in the Iron Age through our programme of Mystery Warrior inspired events, family activities and a lecture series, all designed to complement the exhibition.

"We are very grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Berkeley Homes and Irwin Mitchell for their support in making this exhibition and accompanying programme of events possible."

Stuart McLeod, Area Director London & South from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "The life of the Mystery Warrior and the stories he can tell of Iron Age Britain have now been revealed thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players. This is a part of our heritage that not only has international significance but is also one that the community in which he was found can finally get to the heart of and learn more about his life and journey. We're delighted and excited to support this incredible project."

Paula James, Regional Managing Partner of Irwin Mitchell's Chichester office, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be the signature sponsor for this incredible new exhibition about the Mystery Warrior, which is undoubtedly one of the most significant archaeological finds in many years.

"Having previously supported the Novium Museum with its 2017 Tim Peake exhibition, this latest partnership reinforces our commitment to supporting local businesses and investing in Chichester's future. We hope the Mystery Warrior will bring new visitors from near and far to see the exhibition and that they will enjoy visiting our splendid and historic city."

Harry Lewis, Managing Director of Berkeley Homes, said: "We are delighted to donate this historic find to The Novium Museum in order to ensure that the assemblage remains in its local collecting area. It is one of the most significant archaeological discoveries to have been made at one of our sites, and will help connect residents of Bersted Park to the internationally significant heritage of the site."

The exhibition opens on the 25 January 2020 at The Novium Museum in Tower Street, Chichester, and runs until 26 September 2020. People can find out more about the exhibition and accompanying events by visiting The Novium Museum's website , calling 01243 775888 or emailing thenovium@chichester.gov.uk

Date of release: 23 January 2020

Reference: 3951