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# River Thames spearhead

Iron Age, 200-50 BC

From the River Thames, England


An exceptional decorated iron spearhead


Iron Age people used spears of different shapes and sizes. Most would have had spearheads made of iron, but sometimes sharp bone points were used. Many spears were plain and undecorated. This large iron spearhead is a great exception as it has been decorated with four strips of bronze: two decorated strips on each side. The bronze strips were engraved using a hard, iron tool, with a pattern of circles and curves in the La Tene style of decoration. The patterns are very similar to those found on decorated bronze mirrors.


The bronze decoration may mean that the spear was not made for serious use in battle or hunting. Was this a ceremonial weapon made for show? Like many other ceremonial objects, this spear was found in a river.


Length: 30 cm


Gift of Captain John Ball


P&EE 1938 5-4 1


Room 50, Later Bronze Age & Celtic Europe, case 9


S. James & V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Age (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


I.M. Stead, Celtic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997).


Related objects & informations:


The Witham Shield


Horned helmet


Sword scabbard


Decorated bronze mirror


Decorated bronze mirror


Front-plate and chape from a dagger sheath


Battersea Shield


Early Celtic or La Tene art


Weapons and warriors in Iron Age Britain


Britain in the Iron Age


La Tene





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