PAS-38F120: Bronze Mirror - copyright Luton Culture

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Unique ID: PAS-38F120

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Decorated bronze mirror with handle. Silver Knotenfibel brooch in two pieces. Thirty pieces of pottery from a pedestal urn, flat based jars and other vessels.

All these objects were found in close proximity and probably come from a disturbed grave. Cremation burials became a common way to bury the dead in parts of south-east England in the 1st Century BC. Most graves contain pottery vessels used for drinking or eating. The richer graves sometimes contain decorated bronze mirrors. Silver brooches are very rare finds from Iron Age Britain, and only about nine or ten others are known. They all appear to have come from burials and are very similar in shape to this brooch. Dating to the middle of the 1st Century BC (the archaeological period known as La Tene D"), these safety-pin type brooches all have a decorative collar or boss in the middle of the bow, and are often called Knotenfibeln. The Shillington brooch is very similar to the two pairs of silver brooches found at Great Chesterford, Essex.

The mirror is one of the finest examples of a decorated Iron Age bronze mirror found in recent years. It is constructed from three parts; the circular mirror plate, the handle and the decorative ring on the bottom of the mirror plate near the handle. The back of the mirror was decorated with an abstract curving La Tene or 'Early Celtic' design. The design consists of repeated circular ovals and arches of similar sizes in-filled with a fine basket-weave of engraved or chased marks to make the design stand out. The front of the mirror would be plain and polished for seeing the reflection in. This mirror is well-preserved, except for the major tear in the top made when it was found. Decorated bronze mirrors are a uniquely British object. About thirty examples are known. Many are stray finds, but those found in archaeological investigations usually come from burials. A number of decorated mirrors have been found in south-east England, including examples from Aston (Hertfordshire), Dorton (Buckinghamshire), Chilham (Kent) Great Chesterford (Essex), Colchester (Essex) and Old Warden (Bedfordshire).

Decorated bronze mirrors were made and used for at least 150 years from about 100BC to AD 50. This is one of the earliest dating mirrors so far found.

Dimensions of brooch: Length when complete: 72mm. X-ray fluorescence analysis conducted at the British Museum indicated an approximate silver content of 85 per cent.

Dimensions of mirror: Diameter: 199mm, handle length: 132mm.


The silver brooch qualifies as Treasure due to its age and precious metal content, and therefore the other items in the grave are Treasure by association.

The original file reference for this is P&EE 79.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Luton Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2000T079


Broad period: IRON AGE
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: IRON AGE
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: IRON AGE
Date from: Circa 100 BC
Date to: Circa 1 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 12th November 2000

Personal details

Recorded by: Mr Ian Richardson
Identified by: Dr Jeremy Hill

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2000T079

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Silver
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Shillington (Civil Parish)

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

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1 comment

  • shane pyper wrote @ 22:39:58 on the 5th August 2015.

    As I am the finder of the shillington mirror ,I would like to add that the mirror was all ready broken when I found it .

Audit data

Recording Institution: PAS
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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