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Updated: 14 April 2015

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Updated: 14 April 2015

The Wandsworth shield boss

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Wandsworth shield boss
  • Description

    Copper-alloy shield boss with repoussé ornament in the form of stylized bird-heads. The metal varies in thickness from 1.3mm at the base to 0.75mm at the top of the boss and 0.6mm at the edge of the flange. Wrought sheet copper-alloy roundel with a central boss that is surrounded by a circular ridge; the latter has been made sinuous by punching a tracer into the metal at the back in zig-zag manner. The surface of the boss has been ornamented with a chased design that consists of two identical motifs each covering one half of the boss, although there are slight differences in detail. In the centre of the boss there is a depression with a central rivet hole; an ornamented stud was presumably once placed in this depression. In the groove around the top of the boss traces of a walked scorper line can just be detected; this line has been restored all the way round. The flange around the boss is embellished with relief curvilinear ornament that consists of two identical motifs each covering one half of the flange. The axis of symmetry is on almost exactly the same diameter as the axis of symmetry of the pattern on the boss. The outer edges of the relief have been sharpened at the front with a blunt tracer. In some of the hollowed areas bordered by the relief work there are engraved and chased patterns, some of the lines having been produced in rocked graver technique. In the centre of the depression on each of the formalised bird-heads there is a rivet, probably for the attachment of a now missing stud. The mount was attached to a shield by means of six rivets of which only one now survives; this has a domed head and projects 8mm at the back of the mount, indicating that the shield itself was no more than 8mm thick.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 350 BC - 150 BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 328 millimetres
    • Height: 42 millimetres
    • Thickness: 0.7 millimetres (edge)
    • Weight: 629 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Two cracks almost diametrically opposed, were repaired in antiquity; only one of the repairs is preserved - a short length of wire passed through a pair of holes on either side of the crack, the ends hammered flush with the surface of the metal. The wire passes across the crack on the reverse. Two similar tiny rivet holes on the opposite side of the mount indicate that the repair there was probably of the same kind.


  • Bibliography

    • Spratling 1972 321 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    2012 15 Sep-2013 17 Feb, Germany, Stuttgart, Landesmuseum Württemberg, The World of the Celts: Treasures of Art
    2009 Aug-Nov, Newcastle, Great North Museum, 'Lindow Man'
    2008-2009 Apr-Apr, Manchester Museum, 'Lindow Man'
    1980, London, BM, Celtic Antiquities from Gaul
    1970 15 Oct-22 Nov, London, Hayward Gallery, Early Celtic Art
    1970 22 Aug-12 Sep, Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Museum, Early Celtic Art
    1964 24 Jun-14 Jul, Wandsworth Central Library, The Story of Wandsworth

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    13 March 2008

    Reason for treatment


    Treatment proposal

    -Check for the best positioning on the mount.

    -Investigate and consolidate cracks if necessary.

    -General clean to remove dust.


    Some cracks and minor losses; Generally stable. Some dust and dirt is present on the surface. On the reverse some curly malachite (visual observation only) present in the round (d. 12 cm.) ridge. On the reverse some mineral preserved textile remains and stains from iron corrosion are present.

    Treatment details

    Front cleaned with white spirit on cotton wool. Two white lines with Maestro acrylic colours (comp. variable-acrylic) painted on the reverse to mark the ultimate position on the mount.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


Bronze shield boss.

Bronze shield boss.

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB8497

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