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War and art in Iron Age Britain
The Battersea shield is not in fact a complete shield, but only the facing, a metal cover that was attached to the front of wooden shield. The elaborate design is highlighted with twenty-seven framed studs of red enamel (opaque red glass).
The shield was not made for serious warfare; it is too short to provide adequate protection. The thin metal sheet and the complicated decoration would be easily destroyed if the shield was struck by a sword or spear. Instead, it was probably made for flamboyant display. The highly polished bronze and glinting red glass would have made for a great spectacle. It was finally thrown or placed in the River Thames.