Reflections on Celts
A spotlight tour from the British Museum and National Museums Scotland

Tour schedule

24 October 2015 – 4 January 2016: National Civil War Museum, Newark
6 January – 9 March 2016: Littlehampton Museum
14 March – 22 May 2016: Old Gala House, Galashiels
25 May 2016 – 28 August 2016: Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
31 August 2016 – 26 March 2017: The McManus, Dundee

More about the Celts exhibition in London 
More about the Celts exhibition in Edinburgh 
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Recommend this exhibition

From autumn 2015 to autumn 2016, as part of the National Programme activity around the major exhibitions on the Celts, two Iron Age mirrors from the British Museum and National Museums Scotland will be on display in museums across the UK.

Metal mirrors with a polished reflective surface on one side and swirling Celtic art designs on the reverse were first made around 100 BC. Celtic art marked out powerful objects in the Iron Age, and their abstract style has been used and reused to reflect people’s identities right up to the present. The two mirrors in this tour tell very different stories.

The British Museum’s Holcombe mirror, from Devon in England, was uncovered during the excavation of a Late Iron Age settlement which lay beneath a Roman villa. The back of the mirror is engraved with a stunning looped design which perfectly balances engraved motifs with empty space. This is an example of a new style of Celtic art that developed in southern Britain as communities came into closer contact with the Roman world.

National Museums Scotland’s mirror was discovered at Balmaclellan in Kirkcudbrightshire, south-west Scotland. It was part of a hoard of metalwork, wrapped in cloth parcels, which was placed in a bog, perhaps as an offering to the gods. Unlike the Holcombe mirror, both faces were smooth for reflecting. The decoration is confined to the handle, which is modelled on the shape of Roman vessel handles.

The spotlight tour explores ties that reached across Iron Age Britain and beyond, connecting northern peoples to a world that was being rocked by a new upheaval – the Roman conquest of southern Britain.


Related exhibition

Celts: art and identity

Until 31 January 2016

Holcombe Mirror. 1971,0401.1
Balmaclellan Mirror © National Museums Scotland