Treasures of London – The Battersea Shield…

March 9, 2012

Found in the River Thames near Battersea, the Battersea Shield dates from the Iron Age and is believed to have been created for ceremonial or display purposes (which could be read as showing off), rather than for use in warfare.

Made of a thin layer of highly polished bronze featuring 27 studs into which were placed pieces of red enamel (opaque red glass), the bronze sheets would have originally been placed over a wooden shield. It was clearly designed with spectacle in mind and would have been quickly destroyed in any serious battle. The circular patterns housing the red enamel are designed in what is called the ‘La Tène style’, named for an Iron Age site in Switzerland.

The Celtic shield, which the British Museum dates between 350 to 50 BC, is believed to have been deliberately thrown or placed in the Thames, perhaps as a votive offering, and lay there undisturbed until 1857 when it was dredged up off the river bed near Battersea Bridge during bridge construction.

For a more detailed look at the Battersea Shield, see I.M. Stead’s The Battersea Shield. Unfortunately we were unable to secure permission to run an image of the shield so to see an image of the shield, click here.

WHERE: Room 50, British Museum, Great Russell Street (nearest Tube Stations are Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn and Goodge Street). WHEN: 10am to 5.30pm daily (Fridays until 8.30pm)COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.britishmuseum.org.

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