- Museum number
Copper alloy panel from top of the front of a scabbard 95 mm long and 59 mm wide at the top (expanding to 61 mm wide at the bottom), with a campanulate mouth much higher than the iron hilt end of the sword (16 mm as opposed to 5-7 mm), which suggests that sword [1990,0102.2] and scabbard were not originally intended for one another. About 11 mm below the mouth on the inside of the front panel is the impression of part of another curve, shallower and more in keeping with the shape of the present hilt end. The panel is very slightly convex at the bottom and has broad overlaps that are deeply rounded to clasp the presumed leather scabbard and to cover the edges of a copper-alloy back panel; the rounded edges continue to the front, where each is bordered by a notched rib. Similar notched ribs define a central vertical panel decorated with an overall repoussé design.
- Production date
- 250 BC - 150 BC (circa)
Width: 58.50 - 61 millimetres
Height: 11 millimetres
Height: 94.50 millimetres
Weight: 42.30 grammes
Thickness: 0.70 millimetres (edge)
- 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
From grave 112 in the Mill Hill cemetery, with an extended skeleton, 'crown', shield, brooch and strap-end, Parfitt 1995:19-20; for the grave-goods, see Stead 1995:59-95; Jope 2000:278, pl. 205:0.
The sword found with this scabbard is 1990,0102.1. See also 1990,0102.3-5. The scabbard, made of leather or wood with copper-alloy fittings, had been about 660 mm long.
- On display (G50/dc16)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number