How Celtic was Iron Age Britain

How Celtic was Iron Age Britain

The concept of classifying a period of prehistory as the Iron Age was first introduced in the 19th century and later validated by the massively significant discoveries at Hallstatt and La Tne Subsequently the era was broken down into chronological periods against which the British Iron Age is now defined For ease of definition The British Iron Age tends to be broken into three periods Early Middle and Late spanning roughly 1000 years from 800 BC to the 2nd century AD and is so named owing to the discovery and development of iron taking prevalence over the use of bronze

The term Celtic having passed into the vernacular is now nothing more than a vague generic term The traditional view was that Iron Age Britons were part of a vast Celtic Commonwealth which then stretched across Europe a world of peoples who spoke related languages and who shared a distinctive set of values social institutions spirituality art and other aspects of life and culture James 1997 2 This is now acknowledged to be a massive oversimplification a romanticised notion born of theories put forward by 18th century scholars based on classical Latin and Greek sources Edward Lhuyd proposed that Welsh Scottish and Irish languages all stem from the ancient Gaulish The label Celtic was then transposed from the languages to the people themselves landscapes and their perceived culture and art

Historically and archaeologically speaking this word is unhelpful and uninformative Indeed Simon James has suggested that calling the Iron Age Celtic is so misleading that it is best abandoned James S 010698 As the term Celtic is virtually meaningless for the purpose of this piece we shall investigate to what extent the indigenous population of Britain were influenced by their continental counterparts

It was thought that the Iron Age Britons comprising of diverse and often warring tribes and were in no way unified were subject to a number of Belgic invasions during the Iron Age Some of the evidence for this model comes from Caesar who states that prior to his own expeditions of 55 and 54 BC the population of the coastal regions of southeastern Britain had themselves migrated from Belgic Gaul first in search of plunder and subsequently in order to settle permanently He also reported that in his own lifetime Diviciacus had been not only the most powerful ruler in all Gaul but had also exercised sovereignty in Britain DW Harding 1974 201

There is archaeological evidence which has been used to support this model The discovery of the Battersea shield in 1857 an intricately decorated piece is similar to a bronze shield found in the river Witham in Lincolnshire Both are similar in design to artefacts found at La Tne These finds combined with cemetery sites in Aylesford Welwyn and East Yorkshire which bore close relation to Gaulish burial rites were taken as verifying the theory of invasion as the principal even sole cause of change in prehistoric Britain James 1997 12

With the coming of iron came a number of fortified defences or hillforts There are approximately 3300 such defences on mainland Britain It was originally thought that these were a response to an invasion in the 3rd century BC letting loose bands of Celtic warriors over large parts of the south country Harding 1974 54 However subsequent investigation has found that techniques such as timber lacing which was prevalent on the Continent was also adopted in Britain This presents us with the fact that there were indeed links with the Continent which were not necessarily hostile as their technology is shared and assimilated

Some tribes depended entirely on agriculture where the land and soil permitted others in coastal regions where the land was not so hospitable subsisted entirely from the sea Settlement types varied accordingly from the commonly used roundhouse to the Lake Village near Glastonbury in the Somerset levels to the stone built brochs of Northern Scotland Such diversity does not seem to have been e

* If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the WetPapers website then please email us at wet papers 1 @ gmail dot com for removal request.

© 2018 WetPapers. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy Terms of Service Disclaimer Copyright