- Museum number
- Object: The Desborough Mirror
Bronze mirror. Reflecting surface with green patination, back of mirror highly decorated. The mirror is made from three pieces - a cast handle, the main mirror plate and a tubular binding strip around the edge. The pattern is very complex. It has a symetrical outline in the form of a lyre with flanking coils. The pattern may have been laid out using a pair of compasses. Parts of the decoration are engraved, using a graver, with a basket-weave pattern and hatched texturing to make the pattern stand out.
- Production date
- 50 BC - AD 50 (circa)
Length: 115 millimetres (handle)
Length: 239 millimetres (mirror without handle)
Length: 350 millimetres (total length)
Weight: 561 grammes
Thickness: 6 millimetres (base of handle)
Thickness: 5 millimetres (mirror)
Thickness: 10 millimetres (top of handle)
Width: 69 millimetres (base of handle)
Width: 258 millimetres (mirror)
Width: 30 millimetres (top and middle of handle)
- Curator's comments
- This bronze mirror is one of the finest examples of La Tène, or 'Celtic' art from Britain. The plate was highly polished on one side to produce a reflective surface. One the back the plate was engraved with a complex design. A mirror would have been a powerful object in a world where reflections could only be glimpsed in water. A person using a mirror would control how they looked using the mirror in combination with tweezers or shears. Decorated mirrors of this type are uniquely British, very few are found on the continent. The majority are from graves dating between 100BC and AD 100 (see Joy 2010).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018-2019 22 Sep-12 Jan, Kettering, Manor House Museum, Deceptively Familiar Archaeology
2016 11 Mar- 25 Sep, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Celts.
2015-2016 24 Sep-31 Jan, London, BM, G30, 'Celts: Art and Identity'
2012 15 Sep-2013 17 Feb, Germany, Stuttgart, Landesmuseum Württemberg, The World of the Celts: Treasures of Art
1998 18 Apr-12 Jul, Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, Celtic Art
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number