Finds Tray – Iron Age terminal mount

This is an Iron Age terminal mount in the shape of a bull’s head. It was found by a metal-detectorist near Scarning, Norfolk, back in 2015, but recent research has suggested it may represent a rare example of the plastic style of La Tène art – which is characterised by high-relief, 3D surfaces, and symmetry. Common on the Continent, the form has few examples from Britain.

The mount is made of copper alloy with a circular-sectioned socket filled with orange-stained soil, possibly indicating it was attached to something made of iron. There are four evenly spaced rivet-holes at the base, which would have formed the point of attachment. The tapered end of the mount curves to form a narrow neck before being shaped into the stylised image of a bull’s head, the chin of which is resting on the body of the socket. At the top of the head are two short horns, and on either side of the head are large lentoid eyes, which are heavily hooded by exaggerated brow ridges. The muzzle is decorated with two bulbous curves, making the bull appear as if it is flaring its nostrils.

Photo: Norfolk County Council.

There are only three possible parallels known in Britain: one from Quidenham (search for NMS-1E6986 on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database, www.finds.co.uk), one from Needham (SF-882904), and one from Ashwellthorpe (NMS-003D82), all in Norfolk. That all four are from the same region of England is significant. If these are indeed examples of the plastic style of La Tène art, they could point to an intriguing connection between East Anglia and the Continent during this period.

For more information on this mount, see https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/741833 or search for NMS-178AE0 on the PAS database.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative, funded by the DCMS, to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, visit www.finds.org.uk. Information for this find was provided by Helen Geake, Finds Liaison Officer for Norfolk, Reb Ellis, University of Hull, and Andy Lamb, University of Leicester.
Text: Kathryn Krakowka.