Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Export ban on rare Celtic mirror

Iron Age Celtic mirror
The Iron Age mirror dates from between 75BC and 50BC

A rare Iron Age Celtic mirror and two brooches have been made the subject of a temporary export ban in a bid to keep the items in the UK.

The 19cm high copper-alloy mirror, which is engraved and has a looped handle, dates back to about 75BC.

It was discovered in a shallow cremation grave at Chilham Castle, Kent, in 1993, along with two brooches.

Culture Minister Barbara Follett has placed a ban on the items leaving the UK. The ban will be reviewed in May.

The ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

'Outstanding significance'

Dr Catherine Johns, of the reviewing committee, said: "The mirror is an important example of a rare and quintessentially British type of export.

"The study of such mirrors adds significantly to our understanding of the sophisticated art and complex society of late Iron Age Britain."

The committee recommended that the export decision be deferred, because of the mirror's "outstanding significance for the study of Celtic art and the Iron Age archaeology" in Kent.

The mirror is the earliest example of only 17 complete decorated Iron Age mirrors found in Britain.

The period of the ban could be extended until 1 August if a serious intention to raise the 35,000 recommended price is made.

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