Celtic Anthropoid Sword Hilts

Trying to find out more about the Celtic swords with anthropoid iron hilts offered for sale by "Hermann Historica", I ran across so much material that a special module became necessary.
Pleiner, in his "Celtic Sword" book, notes that there are about 40 known Celtic swords with anthropoid hilts. Only about 13 of these swords can be assigned to a grave assemblage and thus dated with some precision. He gives a table of these 13 swords but the dates are imprecise and cover all of La Tène, i.e. about 500 BC to 0. Pleiner mentions that there are anthropoid hilts made from iron but doesn't give examples.
Nobody, it appears, has mentioned that there is a big difference in making a bronze head for the pommel or an iron head. This is best appreciated by looking at one particular bronze head, similar to one on the British Museum sword:
     
Anthropoid celtic sword; head
The head of an anthropoid hilt; in Besançon, France
Source: "Artefacts" side of the University de Lyon, France (http://artefacts.mom.fr/fr/home.php)
     
  Here is another head. Quite different from the artistic point of view but with the same problems concerning the making:
     
   
Sword pommel found in Cirencester; Gloucestershire, UK; dated to 100 BC - 100 AD
     
It's not so easy to cast a hollow bronze object like that. To make it just with a hammer, as needs to be done with iron, is well-nigh impossible. And I also cannot see how that could be done by swaging.
So how many swords with iron heads do we have? I don't know. Beyond the two "Hermann Historica" ones, I have not yet found others. Here is the page form the auction catalogue; further down are details of the figures:
     
   
Celtic anthropoid iron sword; pattern weldedCeltic anthropoid iron sword; pattern welded
Hermann Historica catalogue page
     
Celtic anthropoid swords; iron hilt
Front and back of the iron heads on the "Hermann Historica" swords
Source: Hermann Historica 2015 catalogue
     
Allright! Front and back are rather similar for these heads. Most likely they aren't hollow either, just drilled through for fitting the end of the tang. These heads thus could have been made by swaging.
Here is the only other hilt that might have been made from iron, judging from the way it looks. Unfortunately I could not find any data for this hilt.
     
Celtic sword with anthropoid hilt, possibly iron
Reichstadtmuseum Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.
   
Here are a few more anthropoid hilts, mostly from "d'Artefacts©, Encyclopédie en ligne des petits objets archéologiques" and from the book by Miklos Szabo, Eva F. Petres: "Decorated weapons of the La Tène iron age in the Carpathian basin"; Inventaria Praehistorica Hungaria V.
 
Celtic anthropoid sword
Besançon, Musée de Beaux-Arst et d'Archéologie
   
  Obviously cast bronze with the head being an integral part of the cast and the tang riveted on top of the head.
 
Besançon, Musée de Beaux-Arst et d'Archéologie
   
  A complex bronze head like the on eon the top of the page
 
   
  Hard to tell, but most likely not iron
     
   
  Quite likely of the cast "hollow head" variety. A photography is shown below.
     
   
  Is the head missing or is this the minimalist / abstract version? Judge for yourself, here are the real things:
     
Celtic anthropoid iron sword; Budapest
Source: Photographed 2015 in the National Museum, Budapest, Hungary.
   
  One of the faces is indeed an abstract ornament. The other one is relatively primitive (the inset is from the museum booklet).
The explanation given is: "Daggers with anthropomorphic bronze pommel from Dinnyés, Györszemere and Szendrö".
     

With frame With frame as PDF

go to Books and Other Major Sources

go to Critical Museum Guide: Landesmuseum Württemberg; Württemberg State Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

go to Additional Pictures - Chapter 11.1

© H. Föll (Iron, Steel and Swords script)