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The Witham Shield at The Lincoln Museum ~ The Collection

The Witham Shield from the British Museum on Show in Lincoln
There is a most wonderful Lincolnshire artefact on show at The Collection in Lincoln which normally resides in the British Museum.
I saw it today and was dazzled . . .

Firstly I should like to thank the Venerable Angry Mutant for the tip off about the Witham Shield being in the Golden Shire (where it belongs if I’m being frank).
I was all but banging on the doors of The Collection in Lincoln this morning for the opening day after driving through snow and tramping through arctic gales and boy was it worth it.

I don’t think I’ve seen a more dazzling museum exhibit

A Real Thing !
Apologies for the poor photograph

This remarkable object has survived form the Iron Age and dates circa 400BC and was found near the River Witham here in Lincolnshire, we discussed the area here Fiskertoon Bog Bodies back in 1826.
This beautiful bronze shield was originally a facing on a wooden shield, the decoration and craftsmanship suggest it may well have been more decorative and a status symbol than a serious military piece of kit.

The red gems you can see in the centre shield boss are Red Coral that are thought to have come from the Mediterranean and shows just how high status this item is.
It’s rarity can hardly be over-stated, indeed there has been nothing like it found anywhere else in Europe.

It’s a thing of staggering magnitude. I stood in front of it and was quite literally blown away - please do try and see it if you can.
I should also say that The Collection has done it proud with a tremendously well laid out display and information boards, superbly done.

This piece of Lincolnshire history can be seen from 13 Mar 2013 to 09 Jun 2013 and then it goes back to the British Museum so I urge anybody with an interest to go and take a look.
If your interest doesn’t extend to a special trip then if you are in or around Lincoln during the dates above then it’s well worth popping - entrance is free, you can’t go wrong.



  1. v said,

    March 14, 2013 @ 8:13 am


    Ty so much for this. I think your word’s ‘blown away ‘ have got to be an understatement here. I am absolutely staggered by this. As a historian and musuem addict I don’t think I have ever seen a shield like this.

    It is certainly owned by a very high status individual.

    I feel privileged even to see an online photo of it.

  2. v said,

    March 14, 2013 @ 9:44 am

    ( Apologies for bad apostrophe there . I didn t notice it when I checked thru. I hate bad apostrophes , but missed it )

  3. angry_mutant said,

    March 14, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    Rod, I’m gnashing my teeth and going green with envy here as being stuck at the dear old slave pen all week precludes my getting to The Collection until Saturday! I’m looking forward to my visit even more now.

    And I concur - the permanent home for it should be within the Celetial Shire; if anyone disagrees, I’ll personally duff ‘em up behind the bike sheds!!

  4. Rod said,

    March 14, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    it’s a tremendous thing to see, absolutely stunning, pleased you like it as well

  5. Rod said,

    March 14, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

    really appreciate the heads up on this one, many thanks.
    You’ll love it, it’s worth the wait and beautifully displayed

  6. Peter Mullins said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    It is stunning, and a delight to have it back home (your figures suggest it was in the Witham for 92% of its life) however briefly. I’ve always wonderde whether the strong evidence that Fiskerton continued to be a place from which ritual objects were thrown into the water provides an historic foundation or at elast background context for the story of King Arthur;s sword being thrown into the lake as he was dying?

  7. v said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    Morning Peter

    I do believe that at least some parts of the old myths and legends are rooted in fact. Other Saxon finds have been found in water and I think this all links in.

    This is as you say stunning. I have logged back onto the page just to look at it .

  8. Rod said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    it is indeed a wonderful thing to behold.
    I wonder whether these ritual offerings were like a form of sacrifice. I’m sure they believed the greater the sacrifice the more notice they’d get from their gods.

    The disposal of something like this shield could be the modern day equivalent of burning your house down in terms of personal wealth or status symbols.

  9. angry_mutant said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    Well, Rod, I made it to The Collection this very morning. I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up now. It’s not as good as I had imagined it to be, it’s even better! So chuffed that the information displayed is of the standard which I have associated with The Collection - everything made accessible, but nothing “dumbed down”; a tricky balancing act indeed. I thin I shall pay a least one return visit before the shield migrates back to the deep south.

  10. Rod said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

    I’m pleased it didn’t disappoint, how could it really . . .
    I agree with the display as well, the whole thing is beautifully presented and once again I’d urge as many people as possible to go and see it while they can

  11. v said,

    March 16, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

    IT all serves to emphasise though that great thorny issue;-

    Should artefacts and finds stay in their home location and position ? I personally think that they should .

  12. Bethan said,

    March 17, 2013 @ 1:11 am

    I was in Lincoln today as well, took a mate to see the castle and cathedral (and warned him Steep Hill was rather…steep) said we’d do the museum next time…wish I’d seen this artical first :( It looks amazing, even better than the Torture Exhibition they had.

  13. Rod said,

    March 17, 2013 @ 7:16 am

    thanks for the comment and welcome to the site - you can’t do much better with a Saturday than spending it in Lincoln.
    It’s a real shame you missed the shield, it’s there for a while yet though

  14. Rod said,

    March 17, 2013 @ 7:18 am

    I think there’s much it that, especially given the the British Museum has a ton of great stuff in storage that would be a real highlight displayed outside of London.

    Also in this case the display is so fantastic it actually feels like a crime to take it down, it deserves to stay on loan where it is I think.

  15. Bethan said,

    March 18, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    Rod, I’ve been following your website for a while, I love it :) Really big on local history just wish it was more accessible.

  16. Rod said,

    March 18, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    thank you :) I too wish more could be seen, from ancient sites to museum pieces stored in boxes :(

  17. angry_mutant said,

    May 31, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    Hi Rod.

    Another “heads up”; just to let all know that the Shield exhibition finishes a week on Sunday (9th June), so if you haven’t been yet, or have been and reckon it’s worth another look (which it is, IMHO as ever), don’t miss it! I’m going nexr Tuesday… :-)

  18. Rod said,

    May 31, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

    wise words, if anybody out there hasn’t been then get cracking - I’ve been at least 6 times !

  19. angry_mutant said,

    August 19, 2015 @ 6:05 pm

    Rod, just to let you know that The Collection have done it again - the Lutterell Psalter is there until 27th September 2015.
    Another unique treasure of the Celestial Shire back on a visit.

  20. bonnie r. said,

    August 19, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    Rod…………incredibly beautiful, words can hardly describe such an object; the scale of history… wonderfully wrought, the red coral inset!…..I am in awe, so glad to see this article……..regards - bonnie r.

  21. Rod said,

    August 20, 2015 @ 7:41 am

    Once again I had no idea, many thanks indeed, I’ll be going to see that !
    Thanks and regards,

  22. Rod said,

    August 20, 2015 @ 7:42 am

    It was quite a thing to see, tremendous stuff.

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