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This article is taken from PN Review 240, Volume 44 Number 4, March - April 2018.

From Chetham’s Library
10: Celtic Stone Head
Michael Powell
Celtic stone head at Chetham’s Library

IMAGE Celtic stone head
at Chetham’s Library
(© Chetham’s Library, 2018)

THE LIBRARY'S carved stone head, which keeps an eye on visitors, has become one of those objects of which we are very fond but of which we know very little. It was ‘discovered’ only twenty years ago, having been hidden for most of its life, and was given the description of ‘Celtic stone head’. Celtic stone heads are
a group of objects that are classified more for their appearance than for their ancestry. They differ from classical heads in a number of ways. For one thing they are more archaic and often cruder in form, being rather coarsely rendered. Typically, the face is circular or ovoid with relatively flat features, whilst a triangular nose is carved in relief continuous with the eye ridges. Cheek bones are usually high and the eyes tend to be almond-shaped – the mouth a slit with the lips either absent or poorly defined.

For objects that are supposed to date back as far as the Iron Age or Romano-British period, Celtic stone heads exist in surprisingly large numbers. The manchester Museum has an index of carved stone heads for the north-west of the Country which identifies over a thousand examples, whilst similar work in Yorkshire has listed over seven hundred head carvings. Certainly the carved stone head is very much a feature of the North of England.

Of course the reason ...


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