Grimston Sword

Iron Age sword with anthropoid hilt, discovered in 1902 at North Grimston, in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire. The sword was found in the grave of a Celtic warrior, along with a shield, a second sword, and a joint of pork (Hull and East Riding Museum).
Iron Age sword with anthropoid hilt, discovered in 1902 at North Grimston, in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire. The sword was found in the grave of a Celtic warrior, along with a shield, a second sword, and a joint of pork (Hull and East Riding Museum).

La Tène Bronze Head

Bronze figure of a man's head from a Late Iron Age (middle to late first century B.C.) cremation burial at Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England.
Bronze figure of a man’s head from a Late Iron Age (middle to late first century B.C.) cremation burial at Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England.

One of three, tiny, moustachioed heads discovered in the rich Belgic grave at Welwyn, Hertfordshire, it bears affinities with a group of late La Tène, anthropoid-hilted short swords, one found at Ballyshannon Bay, Co. Donegal, and another at North Grimston, North Yorkshire, both perhaps originating in southern or southwestern Gaul and dating from late in the second century B.C. The three heads originally adorned a wooden bucket likely resembling the specimen recovered at Aylesford Cemetery, outside Maidstone, Kent, in 1886.

Small Eyebrows Were Considered Very Beautiful

The [Celtic] women were very beautiful, and were as tall and courageous as the men. The beauty of Claudia Rufina, a British lady, is celebrated by Martial. Ammianus seems to represent the females as stronger than their husbands, but he probably means in domestic warfare only. They paid much attention to their persons, especially in Aquitain, where you could not see a woman, however poor, in foul and ragged clothes, as in other places.

Small eyebrows were considered very beautiful among the ancient Caledonians, and some females received their names from this handsome feature. Caol mhal signifies a woman with small eyebrows. The heroes of Morven were not insensible to the power of female eyes. Darthula was so called from the beauty of her’s; and a common phrase in the Highlands to this day, when extolling the beauty of a woman, is to say she is lovely as Darthula.

– The Scottish Gaël; Or, Celtic Manners, as Preserved Among the Highlanders: Being an Historical and Descriptive Account of the Inhabitants, Antiquities, and National Peculiarities of Scotland : More Particularly of the Northern, Or Gaëlic Parts of the Country, where the Singular Habits of the Aboriginal Celts are Most Tenaciously Retained, James Logan, London, 1831.

Celtic Mars Votive Offering

Gutenberg Votive Bronze “Mars” warrior god figure, 5 inches height (Photo Sven Beham).
Gutenberg Votive Bronze “Mars” warrior god figure, 5 inches height (Photo Sven Beham).

Vercingetorix Stater

Vercingetorix_stater_CdM
Gold Stater of Vercingetorix.

Celtic Votive Stag

Gutenberg Bronze Deposit “Stag” Votive Figurine, 6.4 cm height (Photo Sven Beham).
Gutenberg Bronze Deposit “Stag” votive figurine, 2 1/2 inches height (Photo Sven Beham).

Battersea Shield

The Battersea Shield is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic military equipment found in Britain. It is a sheet bronze covering of a (now vanished) wooden shield decorated in La Tène style.
The Battersea Shield is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic military equipment found in Britain. It is a sheet bronze covering of a (now vanished) wooden shield decorated in La Tène style.

The Battersea Shield probably dates from a hundred years on either side of the birth of Christ, though an earlier date is possible, and dates from as early as 350 BC have been suggested by archaeologists/historians. It was dredged from the bed of the River Thames in London in 1857, during excavations for the predecessor of Chelsea Bridge; in the same area workers found large quantities of Roman and Celtic weapons and skeletons in the riverbed, leading many historians to conclude that the area was the site of Gaius Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Thames during the 54 BC invasion of Britain.

The shield is decorated with repoussé decoration and enamel. The decoration is in the typically Celtic La Tène style, consisting of circles and spirals. As a purely decorative piece, it would not have been an effective shield in combat. As it shows no signs of battle damage, it is believed that the shield was cast into the river as a votive offering.

See Witham Shield.

Vachères Warrior

The Vachères warrior, a statue of a Gaulish warrior; Museum Calvet, Avignon, France. ca. I century B.C. Note the torc and Roman clothing/armour.

Witham Shield

The Witham Shield is an Iron Age decorative bronze shield facing of La Tène style, dating from about the IV century BC. The shield was discovered in the River Witham in the vicinity of Washingborough and Fiskerton in Lincolnshire, England in 1826. The artefact is presently in the British Museum.

The beaten bronze shield was made principally from wood, now perished, to a design later known as a “Gaulish Shield” that originated in the VII century BC. What remains is an almost complete facing that had been made to cover its surface.

Detail of the central boss of the Witham Shield.

Originally a leather silhouette of a long-legged wild boar would have been riveted to the shield around the central dome, as indicated by small rivet holes and staining of the shield. The pattern of discolouration was very clear when the shield was recovered from the River Witham (see 1863 drawing below). Although it is still possible to see the discolouration under certain lighting conditions, the boar design is no longer easy to make out.

Drawing of the Witham Shield made in 1863 by Orlando Jewitt in John Kemble’s book, Horae Ferales, clearly showing the long-legged boar.

Images of several birds and animals are incorporated into the design of the Witham Shield. The roundels at each end are inspired by the heads of birds, which are supported by horses with wings for ears. Birds similar to crested grebes are engraved on the central spine and this completes the engraving work elsewhere.

The British Museum consider this shield to be “one of the best examples of the way British craftspeople adopted the new style of La Tène art.”

Carnyx

Carnyx found in the Gallic sanctuary of Tintignac (Corrèze). Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Paris), “Les Gaulois, une expo renversante”, from 19-10-2011 to 02-09-2012.

Their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbarian kind; they blow into them and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war.

— Diodorus Siculus around 60-30 BC (Histories, 5.30).

The word “carnyx” is derived from the Gaulish root, “carn-” or “cern-” meaning “antler” or “horn,” and the same root of the name of the god, Cernunnos (Delmarre, 1987 pp. 106–107). This is the name the Romans gave to the instrument. The original Celtic name is unknown.

Three carnyx players are depicted on plate E of the Gundestrup cauldron.

Ardagh Chalice

The Ardagh Chalice is a large, two-handled silver cup, decorated with gold, gilt bronze, brass, lead pewter and enamel, which has been assembled from 354 separate pieces; this complex construction is typical of early Christian Irish metalwork. The main body of the chalice is formed from two hemispheres of sheet silver are joined with a rivet hidden by a gilt-bronze band. The names of the Twelve Apostles are incised in a frieze around the bowl, below a girdle bearing inset gold wirework panels of animals, birds, and geometric interlace. Techniques used include hammering, engraving, lost-wax casting, filigree applique, cloisonné and enamel. Even the underside of the chalice is decorated. The Chalice was discovered in 1868 in a potato field on the south-western side of a rath (ring fort) called Reerasta beside Ardagh, County Limerick, Ireland, along with a much plainer stemmed cup in copper-alloy, and four brooches, three elaborate pseudo-penannular ones, and one a true pennanular brooch of the thistle type, together the Ardagh Hoard.

La Tène Fibula

La Tène-style fibula (safety pin-like brooch).