In the 1850s one of Battersea Victorian great development schemes was taking place in north Battersea. After Thomas Cubitt’s proposal for a new Royal Park, Parliament passed bills approving the creation of Battersea Park, Albert Bridge and Victoria, now Chelsea Bridge.
During the building of the Victoria Bridge in 1857, a remarkable find was uncovered from the river bed: The Battersea Shield. This can been admired in the British Museum, but there’s also a replica in the Museum of London. Eight year earlier a similar find took place a bit further upriver when the Wandsworth Shield was discovered along with an incomplete shield mount, whilst the river was being dredged. Scroll right to see photo.
The Battersea Shield dating is not precise, estimated between 350-50 BC and is of Celtic manufacturing. It is not believed to have been used in battle, its bronze sheet being too thin, but was most likely a ceremonial offering.
It features spirals and circle reliefs, is decorated with engravings and its 27 raised compartments are filled with red cloisonné enamel, a technique seen extensively in Saxon metalwork in later centuries.
I’m sure it looks familiar to most people, as it is a fairly well publicised part of the BM’s collection. Here in Battersea it can be seen in Brian Barnes mural Battersea in Perspective, on Dagnall street, Battersea, see photo. Looking at the bridges next to East Putney Underground Station, the patterns decorating the sidings remind me of the shield.
To learn more about the history of Battersea and heritage still standing join one of my walks....
Next Victorian Battersea Heritage Walk, Sat 6 November @ 1400 Eventbrite booking link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/161825607749
Next Old Battersea Heritage Walk + visit to St Mary's church + drinks at the Battersea Power Station, Sat 4 December @ 1400 Eventbrite booking link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/192998241937
More walks in Wandsworth, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Clapham, Barnes, Mortlake, St Pancras, Spitalfields, the City of London and Westminster, plus galleries and museums.
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