The Mystery of the Celtic Head - Object of the month

Museum stores

November 2017

This month's Object of the Month was chosen by Munazzah Khalid, she writes:

"My name is Munazzah Khalid and I am studying Archaeology at the University of Bradford. Currently, I am on a work experience placement with Bradford Museums and Galleries as part of my university course. This is an incredible opportunity for me and it has been a wonderful experience so far. I am working under the supervision of the Natural Sciences curator, Gerry McGowan. Working with Gerry has not only enabled me to gain a better understanding of what a curator’s job entails but it is also allowing me to gain some extremely valuable and transferable skills. In addition, working across the different sites has given me a significant opportunity of increasing my knowledge on Bradford history; consequently this has allowed me to increase my appreciation and understanding of our great city. Likewise, I now have more admiration and respect for the museum staff who work tirelessly across the sites to ensure all the museums provide their visitors with the highest quality of exhibitions and displays. They give their all in ensuring that all of the Bradford Museums and Galleries maintain a professional appearance and provide the public with great historical knowledge of Bradford city. Moreover, their utmost concern for the safety of all of their collections is truly commendable.

For ‘Object of the Month’ I have chosen one of the Celtic heads which can be found in the museum stores. It is not a well-known fact that Bradford Museums and Galleries have stores for their vast collections, but I assure you they do. These stores are separate from the museums and galleries due to storage reasons. The Celtic heads piqued my interest as I have been fascinated by the Celts ever since I studied them last semester at university. Though I must mention, I am not entirely certain of what time period the Celtic heads at the stores date back to. I chose this particular head which can be seen from the images above because of its strikingly eccentric features, compared to the other heads. The head was found by the donor in his back garden in Manningham. It is truly fascinating to know there is evidence of Celt activity in our own city.

Celtic art in general is a very interesting topic, their meaning and purpose is still debated greatly as there is not one particular understanding of why the Celts produced such prominent and intricate artwork.  The Celtic heads fall under the category of Celtic artwork which is yet to be understood. There are some who suggest that Celtic heads are symbolic and were a means to raise ideas that are only comprehensible to an Iron Age society; whereas others argue that the Celtic heads served a ritualistic purpose and were used to express religious beliefs. Either way, it is irrefutably evident that the Celtic heads served a higher purpose to the Celts than mere decorations for display. By observing Celtic art found across Europe, there is an extremely clear indication that the Celts had an odd sort of fascination or even a fixation with the human head. This can be seen through the Celtic heads at the stores.  As there is no written evidence of the Celtic world from the Celts themselves, it would be erroneous to assign a specific meaning or purpose to these Celtic heads. As a result, all that remains to do is to speculate and wonder why the Celts did what they did."


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