Diameter: 16.500 cm
Gift of J.J. Rogers, with the sanction of T.H. Edwards
Room 50: Britain and Europe
Decorated bronze mirror
Iron Age, 100-1 BC
From Trelan Bahow, St Keverne, Cornwall, England
In 1833 a new road was being made across the Trelan estate in western Cornwall when the workmen found a number of Iron Age burials. For most of the Iron Age in Britain the dead were never buried but excarnated instead. Cornwall is unusual in this period because some people were buried in graves. Cornish graves were made in cists: stone boxes made in a hole dug into the ground.
This mirror was discovered in one of the graves found by the workmen in 1833. There were other objects in the grave including two brooches, two glass beads and two rings or bracelets. No scientific examination was carried out on the skeleton to establish the dead person's sex and it was assumed that a mirror and jewellery must belong to a woman. However, in 1999 a second mirror was found in a Cornish grave. This time a sword accompanied the mirror. It is often assumed that swords are only found in men's graves in the Iron Age, but this time modern scientific techniques will be used to establish if the person buried in the grave was a man or a woman.
J.J. Rogers, 'Romano-British or Late Celtic remains at Trelan Bahow, St Keverne, Cornwall', Archaeological Journal, 30 (1873), pp. 267-72
R.A. Smith, A guide to the antiquities o-1 (London, British Museum, 1905)