Researchers have discovered an ornate Celtic warrior grave while excavating for a housing development and uncovered a soldier, estimated to be 46 years old when he died, who was interred on top of the shield placed in a chariot drawn by two horses, which has reshaped our thinking about Celtic art and weaponry.
The shield has been dated to between 320 and 174 B.C., as per Melanie Giles, an archaeologist at the University of Manchester who has sententiously declared that this is the most important British Celtic art of the millennium.
The full results of the dig are expected to be announced in 2020.
Paula Ware, an archaeologist, informs that the shield is designed in such a way that it entices the eye to be focused on the center of the raised shield which is adorned with mollusk shells, triskele or triple spiral designs.
She mentions that the shield was made in the La Tene style, which is typical of Celtic art.
Caroline Elbaor of Artnet News informs that the shield shows signs of wear and tear including a hole in the shield.
Ware says to Alex Wood of the Yorkshire post that previously these shields were thought to be purely ceremonial and not intended for use in battles however the puncture holes and the signs of repair challenges this view of the shields’ role within the Celtic hierarchy.
There are other notable characteristics in the grave where the horses were positioned in such a way that they were about to gallop away along with the soldier however its ambiguous if the horses were led to the grave and then killed or were killed before the ritual.
The way food, weapons and transportation were buried along with the man seems to suggest that those who buried him believed this was a temporary sojourn for the soldier before he moved on to other worlds using his chariot.
Giles tells Zoe Tidman of Independent that this encapsulates how Britons were enamored of their chariots.
Ware is trying to reconstruct the cause of the soldier’s death and is confident that he did not die in a battle, as the blunt force traumas could not have resulted in his death, but rather of old age.
The grave also had a bronze brooch, a red glass dragonfly brooch and the bones of 6 piglets, possibly sacrificed along with him when he was interred.
At an adjacent site, about 200 feet away from the grave of the soldier, they also found the remains of a 17-25 year old man impaled with iron and bony spears. Shattered shards of the broken shield could also be found near the grave.
Tidman is excited about this particular find as archaeologists in the UK were not able to find horses in burial sites in all the prior excavations they have undertaken in the last 100 years whereas remains of horses in burial sites have been discovered in other countries like Bulgaria, France and Georgia.