The Didcot Mirror and the puzzles of British Celtic art

The mirror, which dates from the 1st century BC, is decorated with a highly unusual and beautiful curvilinear La Tène style pattern. These particular mirrors are unique to Britain and only 18 complete ones are known to exist.

The Didcot mirror is the only one to have been found in Oxfordshire,

On September 9, from 7-9pm at The Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot a film about the mirror will be premiered.

The film will be about the scientific process of a very small segment of mirror being analysed to find out more information about the artefact.,

Dr Peter Northover of the University of Oxford will give a short talk about the scientific “sampling” process to which the segment of the mirror was subjected and will discuss the results.

Prof Chris Gosden of the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford will give then deliver a talk entitled The Didcot Mirror and the puzzles of British Celtic art.

The Didcot Mirror is seen as one of the most striking recent finds of Celtic art.

Recent research at the University of Oxford has explored how Celtic art in Britain was made, used and deposited. Prof Gosden’s talk will look at how mirrors fit into broader trends in this art and how we might understand this exciting new find.

Historians are unclear on what the exact function of mirrors in the Iron Age society would be but David Moon, Curator of Archaeology with Oxfordshire County Council’s Museums service, believes that they could have been used for other purposes than just to check their appearance.

He said: “They would certainly have been prestigious items, owned by few people. Mirrors can be used to reflect light into dark spaces or to signal across distances as well as to apply make-up or check your hair.

“In many cultures mirrors are magical objects, which reflect an alternative view of the world, or act as a portal to another world, like Alice found in ‘Through the Looking Glass’. This may well have been the case in Iron Age, Druidic society, and mirrors may be connected to fortune telling or shamanic activity.

“While this mirror was a casual find with no archaeological context, some have been found in association with cremation burials, so mirrors may also have had a function connected with death or afterlife.”