River Thames spearhead

Iron Age, 200-50 BC
From the River Thames, England

An exceptional decorated iron spearhead

Iron Age people used spears of different shapes and sizes. Most would have had spearheads made of iron, but sometimes sharp bone points were used. Many spears were plain and undecorated. This large iron spearhead is a great exception as it has been decorated with four strips of bronze: two decorated strips on each side. The bronze strips were engraved using a hard, iron tool, with a pattern of circles and curves in the La Tène style of decoration. The patterns are very similar to those found on decorated bronze mirrors.

The bronze decoration may mean that the spear was not made for serious use in battle or hunting. Was this a ceremonial weapon made for show? Like many other ceremonial objects, this spear was found in a river.

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River Thames spearhead

River Thames spearhead


More information


S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)


Length: 30.000 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1938 5-4 1


Gift of Captain John Ball


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