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Thursday, 2 June 2011

An Iron Age mirror

In 1969, archaeologists unearthed the remains of a Roman villa at Holcombe just outside Lyme Regis. Buried under the floor of the villa, they discovered an object which was even older... an Iron Age mirror dating from the beginning of the first century AD, just prior to the Roman invasion.

The Holcombe mirror is now in the British Museum, but an accurate replica (pictured left) is on display in the museum at Lyme Regis. The mirror is made of very thin bronze, one side of which is decorated with elaborate "Celtic" style designs, while the other side is polished smooth to serve as the mirror. It is clear that the mirror was a high-status item, and it must have been a fashionable possession in its time as no less than sixteen other examples have been found at various sites across southern Britain.

The mirror discovered at Holcombe appears to have been buried deliberately -- possibly by a wealthy native anxiously hoarding his most treasured possessions at the time of the Roman invasion. Unfortunately, the Romans built a villa right on top of the site before he could dig it up again!

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