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Museum Monday: Bronze Age plaque decorated with Nereids (Sea Nymphs)

Submitted by Jacob Scott on 31 October 2023

It's #MuseumMonday and this time Curator Andy Ward showcases a find from the very start of the Kent Archaeological Society!


Posted 30th October 2023


At its inaugural meeting on 14th April 1858, William Bland, Esq., of Hartlip Place, Sittingbourne was thanked for his kind donation of objects found at a Roman Villa on his estate.

The finds included a wonderful Bronze plaque decorated with Nereids (Sea Nymphs), holding a garland. This plaque, possibly part of a diadem (headdress) was made using Repousse metalworking. Repousse or Repoussage involves hammering a thin metal object from the back, bringing out the design in low relief on the front.

A corroded plaque with inlaid decoration.
Bronze plaque decorated with Nereids (Sea Nymphs).

When first described by George Payne, Honorary Secretary and Chief Curator of the society in 1892 he wrote:

"Bronze fragment, decorated in relief with a sea-nymph holding garlands; it may have formed part of a shield or belonged to armour, but it is impossible to say to what it was attached."

This shows how interpretations of objects in our collection can and do change over time. The plaque is currently on display at @MaidstoneMuseums alongside other finds from Hartlip and Minster Villas, the Aylesford Torcs, and the Ozengell Collection until December 4th. You can find the exhibition on the 1st floor, at the western end of the Withdrawing Room.

The image has been edited to increase the brightness and contrast to better show the Sea Nymph.