The Secrets of the Witham Shield
In the early 19th century, a striking Celtic treasure was dredged-up from a river in Lincolnshire: The Witham Shield.
British Museum curator Julia Farley talks about one of her favourite objects in the museum's collection --- a highly decorative shield named after the river in which it was found. At over 2,000 years old, the shield was a remarkable find, but Farley posits that it was also exceptional in its time.\ She encourages us to take a closer look at the shield to see some of its surreptitious and beastly little secrets. Through teaching our eyes to see the subtly encoded messages in such objects one gains insight into Britain's Celtic past, and how this visual language persists through the ages. Farley shows us how this is not just a decorative art, but a powerful art.
Julia Farley is responsible for the British and continental European Iron Age collections at the British Museum.
Her research interests include craft and production, especially metalwork and metalworking technologies, Iron Age ritual and depositional practices, and the colonial encounter between communities in Iron Age Britain and the Roman world. She was lead curator on the major British Museum exhibition, Celts: Art and Identity (September 2015 -- January 2016), organised in partnership with National Museums Scotland, and contributed to and co-edited the associated exhibition catalogue.
Julia completed her PhD at the University of Leicester in 2012, under the supervision of Prof. Colin Haselgrove. As part of her PhD research, she co-ordinated the scientific analysis of silver objects from the Iron Age shrine at Hallaton in East Leicestershire. Prior to joining the British Museum, she held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Leicester, researching the circulation of gold and silver in Iron Age and Roman Britain. She is currently working towards publication of the Iron Age site at Snettisham in Norfolk, with Jody Joy from the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
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