A skilful reconstruction of a Pictish bronze crescent by a local artist has been acquired by The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum and is now a highlight of their latest exhibition ‘Reflections on Celts’. Roddy Mathieson from the Mobile Foundry made a replica from the drawings for Monifieth History Society earlier this year and staff at The McManus were so impressed they commissioned a crescent for Dundee’s permanent collection.
The crescent demonstrates the skills and technology available to the Picts during the Early Medieval period and even with today’s advancements, a replica proved complicated to recreate. In 1796 Charles Rogers of Monifieth made two drawings of a bronze plaque that his father found whilst digging at Laws Farm. The plaque was Pictish and was later graffitied in runes by Grimkitil the Viking. It lay in a tumulus grave for many centuries and through time it had been both a highly valued and completely forgotten object. The plaque was lost soon after its rediscovery, this time leaving the illustrations as a record which Roddy then used to work on the replica.
Christina Donald Curator in Early History at The McManus said
"The plaque demonstrates that the Picts were very skilled in metalwork and Roddy has used some of the same techniques that would have been used to create the original. Making the replica has required a great deal of ingenuity, something the Picts would have had to have to rely on to make such an impressive object. We are really pleased with the finished piece and delighted to have it on show in the ‘Reflections on Celts exhibition."
Roddy Mathieson, Artist said
“I began re-making The Monifieth Crescent because I liked the story and its local angle so much. It is a beautiful example of Pictish design and craftmanship. It has been a real privilege to work on it, and I’m absolutely delighted to see it exhibited in The McManus.”
“For ‘Reflections of the Celts’ I have revisited the plaque casting it using the lost-wax process, which is how the original would have been made. I have the advantage of all the technological developments at my finger-tips, and I have found it challenging attempting to copy the plaque. It is clear to me that the Pictish makers had phenomenal artistic and technical skills in order to produce the original.”
‘Reflections on Celts’ is a spotlight tour in partnership with National Museums Scotland and the British Museum. The exhibition also displays two Iron Age mirrors alongside pieces from the City’s own collection and runs until December 5.
The ‘Reflections on Celts’ tour is generously supported by the Dorset Foundation.