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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Iron fire-dog. Two animal-headed terminals on long iron shafts join to a long horizontal cross-bar, raised from the ground on four 'feet'. The feet, upright shafts and cross-bar are all rectangular in cross-section, with the cross-bar twice the thickness of the feet and uprights, although of the same width. The animal-headed terminals have elongated knobbed horns, and may represent bulls.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 50 BC - 25 BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 1070 millimetres (between uprights, approx)
    • Length: 1170 millimetres (at base, approx)
    • Length: 1350 millimetres (at top, max, approx)
    • Height: 965 millimetres (total, approx)
  • Curator's comments

    This wrought iron fire-dog was found in burial A at Welwyn. This was the cremation burial vault of a man of wealth and power with the paraphernalia for feasting, including imported metal vessels and a wine amphora. Fire-dogs may have been used to spit-roast meat over an open fire for the funeral feast. The complex construction of the piece illustrates the mastery of forging techniques achieved by blacksmiths in the Iron Age. Firedogs were rare and prestigious objects which have been found in only four burials, all sited north of the river Thames. Another example (not from a grave) comes from Capel Garmon in Wales.The two Late Iron Age Welwyn burials were found in 1906 during the cutting of a new route for the road from Hertford into Welwyn, through a gravel knoll to the south of Prospect Place (Hertfordshire HER no. 158).
    Vault A was discovered in October 1906, Vault B in November, and a further smaller burial was found in December 1906.
    The published map (Smith, 1911) gives two findspots for the Welwyn vaults. Neither of these corresponds precisely with the symbols marking the findspots on the 1923 OS map, which may be more accurate.


  • Bibliography

    • Smith, R A 1911 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G50/dc27

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1906

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


Iron firedog.

3/4: Right

Iron firedog.

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB68196

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