World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Battersea Shield

Battersea Shield
bronze shield
On display in the British Museum
Material Bronze
Size Length: 77.7 cm
Width: 34.1–35.7 cm
Weight: 3.4 kg
Created Iron Age, c.350–50 BC
Place River Thames, London
Present location Room 50, British Museum, London
Registration 1857,0715.1

The Battersea Shield is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic art found in Britain. It is a sheet bronze covering of a (now vanished) wooden shield decorated in La Tène style. The shield is on display in the British Museum, while a replica is housed in the Museum of London.


  • History 1
  • Description 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Battersea Shield is currently dated by the museum to c.350–50 BC, though later dates up to the early 1st century AD have previously been suggested. A date in the later part of this range is usually preferred; Miranda Aldhouse-Green is typical in using "2nd-1st century BC".[1] 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 Julius Caesar's crossing of the Thames during the 54 BC invasion of Britain, although it is now thought that the shield was a votive offering, which probably predates the invasion.


Battersea Shield closeup

The Battersea Shield is made of several different pieces, held together by rivets concealed under the decorative elements. It is decorated with repoussé decoration, engraving, and enamel. The decoration is in the typically Celtic La Tène style, consisting of circles and spirals. There are 27 small round compartments in raised bronze with red cloisonné enamel; the bronze within the compartment forms a sort of swastika, thought to have been associated with good luck and also "solar energy".[2] Enamel was a Celtic speciality, and reflects the use of red Mediterranean coral inlays in other British Celtic artefacts, such as the Witham Shield, and here may perhaps be considered as an imitation of imported coral, though the use of enamel allows a more elaborate design. Some scholars have read a reversible human face into the decoration at the points where the smaller circle link to the larger one.[3]

The bronze sheet is said by archaeologists to be too thin to have offered effective protection in combat, and shows no signs of battle damage. It is therefore believed that the shield was cast into the river as a votive offering, and made either as a "parade piece" or status symbol or specifically for votive offering. The metal plate of the shield that remains would have been fixed onto a plain, wooden or leather shield behind it.

See also


  1. ^ Green, 104-105
  2. ^ Green, 105
  3. ^ Green, 104-105


  • Green, Miranda (aka Miranda Aldhouse-Green), Celtic Art, Reading the Messages, 1996, The Everyman Art Library, ISBN 0297833650
  • Stead, Ian Mathieson (1985), The Battersea Shield, British Museum Publications, ISBN 0-7141-1375-1.

External links

  • British Museum: the Battersea shield highlights page
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.