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BRITARCH  September 2008

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Subject:

Re: Ferrybridge Chariot (ceramics experts?)

From:

John Hooker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 6 Sep 2008 08:58:23 -0600

Content-Type:

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Hi Bea,
> Hi John,
>
>      I have always wondered why the Bretons were not affected by the
> Hallstatt culture and whether they were bi-passed for  geographical
> reasons - and it sounds like you can answer that question :)
>
> Bea
>
>   
Hallstatt is rather an ambiguous term. It can refer specifically to the 
culture or generally to the period where it is used to describe broad 
styles of objects spanning the late BA and the early IA.

There is very little from Brittany and the most convenient answer would 
be to say that as the area is remote and not really on the way to 
anywhere, and this is why we do not see much stray Hallstatt stuff 
showing up there. However, we also do not see much La Tene metalwork  
(other than lots of coins) showing up there either and we know that 
various tribes were there and that they played an active role in the 
Gallic war, and built hillforts etc.

The coins provide a clue. Whenever I see an Armorican billon stater, I 
wonder which hoard it was from. Stray finds do exist but they are rather 
rare: even Alet, which was an important Coriosolite port and which has 
been excavated, has yielded very few coins. Yet hoards of Armorican 
coins from Brittany and Normandy can number hundreds and even into the 
low thousands and those from Jersey can sometimes go even higher (exact 
data on many hoards discovered in the19th century  is vague).

The profiles of the Jersey hoards revealed to me that the coins had been 
gathered from various locations around Brittany and Normandy. The Le 
Catillon hoard being especially informative because many of the coins 
were test-cut to see the colour of the internal metal and because it 
also contained other scrap metal -- part of a torc, brooches etc. A 
small "multiple deposit" from the Chatellier fort (Le Petit Celland) in 
Normandy was excavated by Mortimer Wheeler. It follows the profile of 
the Jersey hoards (which differs from the Breton hoards in containing 
large percentages of coins from Normandy (espcially,  the former, Class 
II Coriosolite which I reassigned to the Unelli under Viridovix). It 
also contained pottery of types also found at Hengistbury in Dorset. 
Hengistbury was a port which not only brought in goods from Alet, but 
also had facilities to recycle billon (cupellation). That deposit was 
found in a scatter under the burnt remains of a makeshift gate to the 
unfinished, and long abandoned, fort.

Alet had been destroyed by the Romans in about 15 A.D. This coincided 
with a severe monetary economic downturn of the Durotriges in Dorset in 
favour of the tribes (mostly) north of the Thames, and I believe this to 
have started with the terms of surrender to Caesar by Cassivellaunos. 
Philip de Jersey has noted that British A gold staters -- which John 
Kent assigned to Cassivellaunos and are certainly a federal coinage, do 
not show up in Durotriges territory. Yet their own "white gold" to 
silver staters which eventually debase all the way to crude cast copper 
coins are derived in their design from British A.

Putting all of this together, the Armorican federation in Brittany was 
economically aligned to the Durotriges in England (perhaps also with 
other S.W. tribes) and both the Durotriges and the Brittany tribes were 
especially punished by the Romans to the advantage of other British and 
Gaulish tribes. For a while, the Brittany tribes survived through the 
sale of scrap metal which was hidden in Jersey pending large exports of 
it to Hengistbury but this seems to have come to an end at the same time 
that Alet was destroyed by a Roman "police action".

In the light of this, it seems that the missing Brittany metalwork all 
ended up in the melting pots, most likely at Hengistbury. I can offer 
some suggestions as to the styles of this melted down metalwork for the 
La Tene period: most of it would be less likely to have been decorated 
in the Marnian fashion and more likely to have been derived from the 
Rhineland/Saar styles as it would have followed a related stylistic 
development to the coinage. The Armorican coin style largely descends 
from the eastern Armorican, Aulerci Cenomani who had migrated into the 
Sarthe region from the west Rhineland-Palatinate area in about 100 B.C. 
( this might have merely been the last of several, similar, migrations. 
I have some evidence, not yet fully worked out, that some such derived 
eastern Armorican iconography dates to at least the 3rd century B.C.)

Cheers,

John

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