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Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored

A shield discovered during a housing development in Pocklington has been hailed as the 'most significant Iron Age find this century.'

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
Pocklington Iron Age shield following cleaning and restoration work
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]
The shield was part of an impressive ‘warrior grave’ find uncovered at a Persimmon Homes ‘The Mile’ development last year and now a preservation project has revealed its full glory.

The remarkably preserved bronze shield was found laid face down in the cart of an upright chariot, which had been drawn by two ponies.

The skeleton of a post 46-year-old male was laid upon the shield and is considered to be the shield’s owner.

Experts say it is the most important British Celtic art object of the Millennium.

Specialist conservation has revealed a swirling La Tène style architecture, typical of early Celtic art, said Paula Ware, from MAP Archaeological Practice who carried out an excavation on behalf of Persimmon Homes.

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
The Iron Age shield emerges during excavation
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]
She said the repousse design, made by hammering the bronze sheet from the underside, featured evidence of organic forms, such as spiralling mollusc shells creating a three-legged triskele motif, and the highly decorative asymmetrical design drew the eye to a central raised boss.

“The magnitude and preservation of the Pocklington chariot burial has no British parallel, providing a greater insight into the Iron Age epoch,” she said.

“The shield features a scalloped border. This previously unknown design feature is not comparable to any other Iron Age finds across Europe, adding to its valuable uniqueness.

“The popular belief is that elaborate metal-faced shields were purely ceremonial, reflecting status, but not used in battle. Our investigation challenges this with the evidence of a puncture wound in the shield typical of a sword. Signs of repairs can also be seen, suggesting the shield was not only old but likely to have been well-used,” said Paula.

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
The complete chariot - with horses - found during the dig in Pocklington
[Credit: David Keys]
She said the burial was considered a final resting place for a highly regarded member of the community due to being surrounded by the remains of six pigs, believed to act as an offering, and the addition of a further burial of a younger injured male close by.

Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, who own the find, said it was planning to donate the discovery to a museum.

Scott Waters, director in charge at Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, said: “The excavation at The Mile development is a truly magnificent discovery for British history and we feel this recognition and find should remain in the local area.”

The full academic find is expected to be published in the spring, said a spokesperson.

“Excavation is now complete, and construction of the new development, which features a collection two, three, four and five-bedroom homes, is under way, with many customers already moving into their homes

Author: Mike Laycock | Source: The York Press [December 05, 2019]


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