Celtic bronze Ornament
Period: 3rd-2nd Century B.C.
Dimensions: 2.9 cm x 6.5 cm
Acquired on the German art market in 2005.
Excellent state of conservation
This cast bronze ornament is surprising because of its signi?cant weight. It is rectangular with the lower part cut straight and pierced by a square opening in its center. The object is hollow: two cylindrical rivets with ?attened heads, which also pierce the anterior part of the ornament, are inserted into the center of the hollow space; on the back, the piece was probably covered by a small ?at sheet.
Finished with a slightly curved decorative nail with a spherical head which extended from the opening under the piece, this pin was used to prevent a wheel from sliding off the axle of a chariot: it was threaded through a hole drilled at the ends of the axles so that the wheel could not fall off. Linchpins in the shape of curved nails are hallmarks of the Celtic World: the known examples, which are very few, generally present a rectangular ornament like this one, while others are surmounted by triangular or hemispherical decorations.
Three heads of animals in relief decorate the surface of the piece: two canines (wolves?) seem to surround a ram’s head. As is often the case in Celtic animal art, forms are stylized and abstract patterns and subjects are melded and mixed in an unnatural, although always original and varied way : thus, even on an small object like this one, the lower jaw of the wolves turns into a large volute with a bud in the center, a sort of ?sh tail extends from the ram’s head, a horse tail replaces the wolves’ neck (the wolves’ teeth look like a dotted bulge, the ram’s horn turns into an arch and the ears into buds in relief, etc.
DUVAL P.M., Les Celtes, Paris, 1977, pp. 113-117.
JACOBSTAHL P., Early Celtic Art, Oxford, 1968, pl. 101-103, n. 159-164.