Found on the Scottish borders in the 1950s and then displayed unrecognised in a garden until the 1980s, this well-preserved Celtic head with an elaborate hairstyle, is typical of the Brigantes Nation. Before the arrival of the Romans, West Yorkshire and much of the Pennine uplands were occupied by a loose association of tribes known as the Brigantes. The name seems to mean ‘the high one’, which is a suitable epithet for a group of people living in the more mountainous regions of Britain.
For Celts in Britain and Europe the human head represented a powerful symbol that was employed for various talismanic uses, including bringing strength to warriors and offering protection. Irish legend, for instance, recalls that the head of Conall Cernach was used as a drinking vessel, imbuing the warriors of Ulster that drank from the skull with immense strength.
It is thought that British Celts in particular understood the human head as being the centre of the soul and serving as a link between the physical world and the sacred world of spirits.