The design is the most interesting part of the Desborough mirror.
The Desborough mirror is estimated to be from about 50 BC – 50 AD. It’s made of bronze polished on one side and engraved on the other. It was found in Desborough, Northamptonshire, England near Desborough valley in 1908 and was acquisitioned for the British Museum in 1924. It’s not currently on display.
In Rethinking Celtic Art, edited by Duncan Garrow, Chris Gosden, and J.D. Hill, Jody Joy wrote about mirror design. According to Joy, the designs on mirrors were created by trying to fill as much space as possible with both positive and negative motifs, usually starting with bigger designs and filling them in from there.
That can be hard to see with everything happening on the mirror, so in the book, Joy uses other mirrors, the Portesham and Birdlip, to demonstrate the process. I took the liberty of marking some of the designs and motifs in the Desborough mirror below as best I could.
- Lyre-loop with Flanking Coils (largest red-design)
- Lyre-loop (smaller red-design)
- Trumpet Voids (blue-negative motifs)
Joy found that most of the mirrors available to her used the designs and motifs to create their decoration, which means if you were to get ahold of the motifs and designs she identified, you might be able to make something similar yourself with some patience.
Celtic Mirrors has more information on the Desborough mirror and has other mirrors available for your digital viewing pleasure.
What do you think of the design? Do you think you’ll learn more and make your own?
Your Bonnie Celtophile,