The Colchester Celtic mirror has been known to students of the period since a photograph of it was published by Henry Laver in the Proceedings of our Society (x·x, 1905, p. 213) as one object in an important grave-group. Laver noted that the back of that portion of the mirror-plate which is preserved is ‘ornamented with a spiral pattern’, but this pattern is not to be seen in the reproduction. Another reference in the literature is that by R. A. Smith, Archaeologia, lxi, 338, who mentions ‘traces of engraved scrollwork’ and an ‘imbricated filling, not of the usual basket-pattern’. Mr. E. T. Leeds produced another group photograph of the find; Celtic Ornament, fig. 10 and p. 30.
The writers of this article collaborated for the purpose of studying the ornament, and of reconstructing the complete design, if that should prove possible. The incised work was found to be very difficult to follow owing to a pustule-like corrosion all over the mirror fragment. Thus, as one of us remarked after the first attempt, ‘it is only here and there, either in a strong cross-light, or with the lens, that one can see and copy it’.
Thereafter both of us worked on the mirror fragment, and gradually the pattern emerged; it is reproduced in fig. 1. This drawing is necessarily an imitative representation of the original; it records not only actual marks on the bronze, but also direct inductions, such as the continuation of a partly preserved curve or circle, a line drawn on one side to match a line preserved on the other, and the development of the ‘matting’ or hatching from intermittent appearances. We have thought it well to indicate corrosion, but the dense obscurity of the original due to this cause cannot be reproduced.
Portions of the rim of the mirror survive. This is as usual a separate strip of metal bent in a C-shape round the edge of the plate. The handle of the mirror is an attractive variant of a familiar design which can be better appreciated in the drawing than in the photographs previously published.