A Later Bronze Age shield from Oxfordshire

bronze shield during excavation

In the summer of 2018, CA’s Cirencester team undertook excavations on an Iron Age site ahead of a new housing development near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Most unexpectedly, this resulted in the discovery of a bronze shield, which was found in an isolated shallow pit. While damaged and very corroded, and a challenge to excavate, record and lift, it was taken to the lab for conservation and shortly afterwards examined by Bronze Age weaponry expert Marion Uckelmann.

It turned out that this is a distinctive form of round shield decorated with alternating concentric rows of small bosses and ribs, known as a ‘type Yetholm’ shield (after the type-site in Scotland) and dated to the later Bronze Age (1300–1125 BC). There is a closely comparable example from North Yorkshire which is better preserved (see below).

Yetholm-type shield ©Marion Uckelman
Yethom-type shield. Source: Oxoniensia Volume 85, 2020; page 272. Courtesy of OAHS

This is the 24th shield of its type found, all bar one (from Denmark) coming from the British Isles. Most are from rivers and bogs, where the chances of preservation are higher, and the Woodstock shield is unusual in coming from dry land. The closest comparison in this respect, and the only other one found during an archaeological excavation, comes from just outside Cadbury Castle in Somerset.

The discovery is published in the latest issue of Oxoniensia, the journal of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society, where Marion Uckelmann’s analysis of the shield and its remarkable method of manufacture can be found.

Andrew Mudd (Post-Excavation Manager)

Read more in Oxoniensia (subscription only).

BA shield

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