North West Wales

Tax bill paid with 2,000-year-old Iron Age fire guard

Part of the firedog
Image caption The Capel Garmon Firedog - part ox and part horse - would have once been one of a pair on the hearth of an Iron Age chieftain's roundhouse

A 2,000-year-old Iron Age fire guard has been accepted into Wales' national museum in lieu of inheritance tax.

The Capel Garmon Firedog, once one of a pair on the hearth of a chieftain's roundhouse, is regarded as one of the finest surviving prehistoric iron artefacts in Europe.

Previously on loan to the National Museum it will now be part of Wales' collections of Early Celtic Art.

It was discovered in a peat bog in 1852.

Conservation X-raying of the object, twinned with an experiment attempting to replicate the making of the piece, has demonstrated the sheer skill of the blacksmith.

The piece comprises of 85 separately shaped elements, and originally weighted around 38 kilos.

'Appreciate'

It is estimated it would have taken around three years to create.

It was found near Llanrwst in Conwy.

It has been dated to approximately 50BC to 50AD, and was a mark of the status of its owners.

The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme enables taxpayers to transfer works of art and important heritage objects into public ownership in full or part payment of inheritance tax.

In Wales these items must be approved by the minister for housing, regeneration and heritage in the Welsh Government.

The minister, Huw Lewis, said the Capel Garmon firedog is an excellent example of early Celtic art.

"I'm pleased the artefact has been acquired for the national collection, enabling the public to access and appreciate the craftsmanship of this fascinating object," he said.

The firedog is said to be one of the most popular objects in the 'Origins: In Search of Early Wales' gallery at the National Museum in Cardiff.

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