Height: 10.700 cm
Width: 23.300 cm
P&EE 1974 12-1 273
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Bronze cart fitting
Bronze Age, 1300-1100 BC
From Pressburg, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
This ornamental mount has a socket at the base for a shaft, presumably of wood. The cross-piece, forming two 'arms', is occupied by two duck-like birds facing outwards. It also features incised decoration of hatched triangles, both on the arms and on the top of the central spindle.
At one time it was thought to be a macehead, but bird associations elsewhere suggest that it is more likely to have been set on a vehicle. Ducks and other birds are a regular, if not particularly common subject in decoration in many parts of Europe during the later Bronze Age. Their exact significance is not known, but as creatures of the air, they doubtless had cosmological associations. They remained potent symbols into the Iron Age.
Before 1974 the cart fitting had formed part of the private collection of General Pitt Rivers that remained at the family residence in Farnham, Dorset. At this stage many objects were transferred to The British Museum in lieu of death duties.