This project seeks to systematically study Iron Age mirrors as a group for the first time since 1909. Up to 60 mirrors have been found, many of these in the last 30 years, and there are now a number of very detailed reports on individual finds.  Set against the background of a general need for detailed technological and contextual analysis of Iron Age material culture, this project aims to examine mirrors from their production through to deposition.

Mirrors are some of the most well known objects from the British Iron Age. They are complicated objects made of bronze, iron, or a combination of bronze and iron components. They comprise a handle and a plate. The plate backs are sometimes decorated with complex designs. Mirrors have been found throughout the British Isles, most commonly in graves, and they date from around 300 BC – AD 70.

In the past mirrors have been interpreted as the possessions of high status women, although very little evidence has been provided to support this assumption. This project aims to test this hypothesis through a detailed examination of the way mirrors are made, how they were used and how they were deposited. The project also has wider implications for our understanding of the later British Iron Age. The manner in which mirrors are manufactured, decorated, and deposited, echoes many other contemporary Iron Age objects. Through an examination of Iron Age mirrors the project also aims then to comment upon late Iron Age society in Britain.


To compile the first catalogue of British Iron Age mirrors for nearly a century, a detailed technological and contextual analysis of Iron Age mirrors as a group, and relate the manufacture, use and deposition of Iron Age mirrors to wider changes occurring in later Iron Age society in Britain.

This project has been completed.

Decorated bronze mirror

Decorated bronze mirror, a highlight of British La Tène / Celtic Art. Iron Age, 50 BC - AD 50, from Desborough, Northamptonshire, England.