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Prehistoric Fire-Dog

Nature volume 143, page 552 (01 April 1939) | Download Citation



COLONEL J. C. WYNNE FINCH, a governor of the National Museum of Wales, has lent to the Museum for purposes of exhibition for a period of two years the remarkable example of Celtic iron-work known as the Capel Garmon fire-dog, which was found at Carreg Caedog Farm, near Capel Garmon, in 1852 by a labourer when digging a drainage trench. It is described (The Times, March 16) as constructed of two vertical bars, bent over at the top to form a neck, on to which is fastened a crest and the schematized head of an ox. The bars stand on semi-circular arched feet, and are connected by a horizontal bar thickened towards the middle, presumably to support the weight of the logs. The uprights are ornamented on each side by a ribbon of iron, bent in semi-circular loops, and with spiral coils at the top and bottom. The ribbon between the loops is attached to the upright by heavy decorative rivets. Other finds of a generally similar character have been made in south-eastern England in tombs belonging to the Belgic culture of the Iron Age, to be dated circa 100 B.C.-A.D. 50, while others, again approximately of the same period, have been found on the Continent in areas occupied by the Celts, who seem in this instance to have adapted an object of Mediterranean type to their own uses. It is pointed out that the Mediterranean influence may perhaps be seen in a very special fashion in the crest of the Capel Garmon fire-dog, which with its thin vertical strip pierced at intervals with circular holes and bearing a thick bar flattened and curled at its lower end, and in its row of knobs representing the plume socket, suggests a Greek helmet crest. None of the fire-dogs so far discovered is as elaborate as the Capel Garmon specimen, as they lack the crest, the loops on the uprights, and the rivet-heads. The discovery of pairs of fire-dogs together suggests, although it is not known with certainty, that two formed a set, one being placed on each side of the fire, which was laid in the centre of the house.

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