Late Bronze Age, Yetholm Shield

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Late Bronze Age, Yetholm Shield


This circular shield (Diam. 63.8cm) is made from a blank of thin sheet-bronze, evenly beaten to a thickness of 0.5mm and with a total weight of 1484g. It is skilfully and symmetrically decorated with 11 concentric repoussé ribs and 11 rows of low hemispherical bosses. A large, hollow central boss is stepped and of a rounded conical shape. Tow neat circular perforations, replacing bosses in one row, held the rivets for suspension tabs, now missing. A central handle, on the back, is a stout, C-sectioned strip of bronze, held in place by two rivets with heads indistinguishable from the decorative bosses. The rim of the shield is rolled over. Six tears or holes represent damage from the rear; one irregular perforation represents damage from the front, and it is unclear what might have caused this. Some indentations on the exterior of the central boss were also produced from the front. It is unlikely that this object was ever used in combat. Experimentation with modern replicas show that it would have been easily penetrated with bronze weaponry. The shield was purchased by Pitt-Rivers for his private collection from Mr William Wareham, London in May 1882 but later displayed in the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Dorset. It was discovered in the Thames river in 1864 in low water, by a boatman who brought it to the surface using a boathook. The shield is a Yetholm type, which except for one, are from England (15), Scotland (9), Wales (2) and Ireland (2). The majority are from wet contexts, bogs and larger rivers. This indicates they may have been votive offerings at the end of their life. Dating is difficult, due to their generally solitary find contexts, but they have been given a Late Bronze Age date.

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