‘Significant loan’ from British Museum on show in Littlehampton

Littlehampton Museum curator Kathleen Lawther with the Holcombe mirror
Littlehampton Museum curator Kathleen Lawther with the Holcombe mirror

LITTLEHAMPTON Museum is one of only two English venues chosen to display a pair of Iron Age mirrors from national collections.

The Reflections on Celts display, which opened yesterday, is linked with a talk by Dr Julia Farley from the British Museum.

The Balmaclellan mirror is likely to have been left as an offering to the gods

The Balmaclellan mirror is likely to have been left as an offering to the gods

The mirrors are on loan from the British Museum and National Museums Scotland and the tour is supported by the Dorset Foundation.

The British Museum’s Holcombe mirror was uncovered in Devon during the excavation of a late Iron Age settlement, which lay beneath a Roman villa.

The Balmaclellan mirror from National Museums Scotland was discovered in south-west Scotland as part of a hoard of metalwork, thought to be an offering to the gods.

Curator Kathleen Lawther said: “Littlehampton Museum is proud to be hosting two exciting events to celebrate the town’s involvement in a major exhibition on the Celts, currently showing at the British Museum.

“Littlehampton has been chosen as one of just two English venues to display a pair of Iron Age mirrors. In addition to these significant loans, Dr Julia Farley, curator of the Celts: Art and Identity exhibition, will be giving a talk on Curating the Celts on January 19.”

Dr Farley will be speaking about the story of the show, which spans more than 2,000 years of Celtic history, and the behind-the-scenes work involved in curating a major exhibition. She will also explore how the two mirrors on display in Littlehampton fit into the wider picture of the Celts and Celtic art.

The hour-long talk, starting at 6.15pm, is free to attend but there are a limited number of places available. To book, email museum@littlehampton-tc.gov.uk or call 01903 738100.

Reflections on Celts is on display in the archaeology gallery until Wednesday, March 9, sitting alongside the museum’s own significant collection of local finds.

Metal mirrors with a polished reflective surface on one side and swirling Celtic art designs on the other were first made around 100BC.

The two mirrors on display tell very different stories.

The Holcome mirror, which has a complex pattern with shape-shifting qualities, was buried in a pit around 2,000 years ago.

The Balmaclellan mirror was wrapped in cloth and placed in a bog a generation after the Roman invasion of Britain. It shows a unique mixture of influences from southern British Celctic art and Roman motifs.

Dr James Walsh, chairman of Littlehampton Town Council’s community resources committee, said: “Littlehampton Museum is delighted to have been chosen to host these events. Don’t miss your chance to see these incredible objects on your doorstep and to hear an expert curator tell their story.”

The two mirrors will be moved to Scotland next and will remain on tour there until the autumn.

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