- Museum number
Copper alloy openwork ornament from the cover of the boss of a shield. The openwork ornament was found amongst the binding and other fittings. The fragments were scattered over a length of 0.17m, mainly within 0.1m of one another. The pieces join to form a triangular plaque which is bent with negative cut out designs. Despite the distortion it is obvious the ornament was originally flat. The one complete nail shows that it had been attached to organics much thicker than the board of the shield, and a carved wooden umbo is a strong possibility.
- Production date
- 250 BC - 150 BC (circa)
Thickness: 0.60 - 0.80 millimetres (edge)
Length: 102 millimetres
Weight: 11.40 grammes
Width: 80.60 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This object was found in the burial of a man aged 30 to 35 years (for human remains see 1990,0102.28). The man was probably buried around 200 BC. This extended inhumation burial was part of a large Iron Age cemetery at Mill Hill, Deal, Kent (Parfitt 1995, p.18-20, grave 112).
The most unusual object in the grave was a bronze ‘crown’ or ‘head-dress’ (1990,0102.24), engraved with detailed La Tène style decoration. A wooden shield with bronze bindings and fittings (1990,0102.6-23), and an iron sword (1990,0102.1) with copper alloy scabbard (1990,0102.2-5) were also part of the burial assemblage. The shield was the same shape as some of the miniature shields from the Salisbury hoard (see 1998,0401.1-20).
Other objects included bronze scabbard suspension rings (1990,0102.26-27) and a bronze brooch (1990,0102.25). The brooch was discovered near the man’s feet. Perhaps the brooch had been pinned to a cloak folded at his feet. All three of these bronze objects were decorated with applied coral studs. The grave goods were published by Stead (1995, 59-95). The sword is also published by Stead (2006, no.66) and Jope (2000, 278, pl.205:O).
Much has been made of the inclusion of the head-dress in the grave. No other head-dresses from Iron Age Europe have been found in graves. It has been suggested that this object may indicate that the man was a priest or king. This ‘crown’ was perhaps a sign of leadership, but of what kind is unknown – spiritual, military or political. Unlike most modern leaders, his role may have covered all these areas.
Jope, E.M. 2000. Early Celtic Art in the British Isles. Oxford University Press
Parfitt, K. 1995. Iron Age Burials from Mill Hill, Deal. British Museum Press
Stead, I.M. 1995. ‘The Metalwork’ in K. Parfitt (ed.) Iron Age Burials from Mill Hill, Deal. British Museum Press. p.59-111
Stead, I. M. 2006. British Iron Age swords and scabbards. British Museum Press
- On display (G50/dc16)
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number