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A Celtic Mirror from Great Chesterford

  • Cyril Fox

The mirror is likely to have come from a lady’s grave: no details of the find are available. There is in the parish a well-known cemetery dating from the beginning of the Early Iron Age.

The overall length of the mirror with its handle (PLATE XXVI) is 23·5 cm. (11·75 in.); the diameter of the plate is 16·3 cm. (8·15 in.). This has a delicate incised line round its circumference, close to the edge, back and front, as the photographs show.

The face of the mirror is smooth and glossy: the piece suffered some damage when disclosed—probably by a plough-share. It is thus slightly bent at the top (losing, here, its smooth reflecting surface), and the handle has been wrenched, causing a crack in the plate to the right and above it. It should be noted that there is no loss of detail of the pattern on the mirror-back resulting from this crack: the dark strip on the photograph (PLATE XXVII) is, in part, a shadow cast by lateral displacement.

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1 Its passage under the handle on the left is certain; it is visible in the notch marked X.

2 Related patterns will be seen on PI. 56 of C. Fox, Pattern and Purpose: A. (Mayer), C. (Gibbs), P. (Col chester)—earlier; H. (Old Warden)—later.

3 Fox Pattern and Purpose, PI. 60, A. Here best seen at ‘4 o’clock’ on Plate xxvil, near the rim.

4 Pattern and Purpose, Fig. 51.

5 My paper on Celtic Mirror Handles in Britain, Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1948, gives the range of its type.

6 Pattern and Purpose, PI. 56.

7 Pattern and Purpose, PI. 56 H.

8 This breakdown of a formal tradition is carried even further by the Old Warden mirror, Pattern and Purpose, Pl. 60.

A Celtic Bronze mirror was recently found, probably in the parish of Great chesterford in North Essex. Dr Geoffrey Bushnell, Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in the University of Cambridge, invited Sir Cyril Fox to describe this fine new mirror for publication in ANTIQUITY, and Sir Cyril wishes to acknowledge the help he has had in the preparation of this article from Miss M. D. Cra'ster, Assistant Curator in the Museum.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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