Terrets from the Westhall hoard

Iron Age AD 1-70
From Westhall, Suffolk, England

Iron Age heirlooms belonging to a Roman Briton?

The terret, or rein ring is a distinctive Iron Age object found only in Britain. These two were found with seven others in a hoard of metal objects. The hoard had been packed inside a bronze bowl before being buried in the ground. It included Roman coins and, as the latest coin was made in the reign of Faustina (born AD 125-176), the hoard must have been buried in AD 138 or later. This is almost a hundred years after the Romans conquered south-eastern England, and sixty years after Boudica's unsuccessful revolt. It is very likely that these terrets were made about AD 1-70, probably before the Roman Conquest and Boudica's revolt. At this time decorated metal horse harnesses and parts of chariots or carts were very common in parts of Britain, especially Norfolk and Suffolk. This was the home of the Iceni.

These terrets show how local metal-workers and enamellers combined techniques and designs to achieve a quality unsurpassed, even by contemporary Roman craftspeople. The large terret is one of a set of five with the same decoration on each piece of the set. The small terret is one of a set of three. Both terrets are inlaid with red glass and were decorated in the same way: a scroll pattern was drawn in a clay mould. After the metal was poured in and left to solidify, the mould was broken. The inside of the pattern was roughly chiselled out of the cast terret and the hollowed-out areas filled with softened red glass. A blow-pipe was used to spot-heat the glass to give a good fit in the sharp angles and narrow constrictions of the design. The same decoration is repeated on each side of the terret.

Find in the collection online

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)


Height: 6.400 cm
Width: 7.700 cm
Height: 6.400 cm
Width: 7.700 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1855.5-19.3, 6



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore