Yorkshire’s Iron Age shield has been hailed as “the most important British Celtic artwork of the millennium”


An elaborate Iron Age shield found in an impressive ‘warrior’s grave’ in Yorkshire in 2017 is hailed as ‘the most important British Celtic artwork of the millennium’.

Careful conservation work has revealed the intricate pattern hammered into the face of the bronze shield – with a swirling, asymmetrical pattern and raised boss.

Alongside this decoration, the discovery of a sword hole and evidence of past repair work calls into question the idea that such shields were purely decorative.

The find was discovered in a housing estate near the town of Pocklington, along with a chariot and the remains of two horses, two humans and sacrificial pigs.

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Elaborate Iron Age shield, illustrated, found in impressive ‘warrior’s grave’ in Yorkshire in 2017 is hailed as ‘the most important British Celtic artwork of the millennium’

WHAT WILL WE LEARN FROM THE DISCOVERIES OF THE WARRIOR’S TOMB?

Experts say the rare discovery of horses and chariots will help us understand the culture of Arras that lived in East Yorkshire during the Iron Age.

Many people in this period were farmers, growing wheat, barley, and beans with animals such as cattle, sheep, and pigs.

The culture of Arras is defined by its strange burial practices, which include the use of round and square graves.

Burials with chariots were reserved for the rich and powerful.

The Arras burials offer a unique glimpse into life in the Iron Age, when cremation was more common.

The breathtaking 75cm (30in) shield was found in the ‘Warrior’s Tomb’ unearthed last year in Pocklington, Yorkshire, at a Persimmon Homes construction site dubbed ‘The Mile’.

The tomb also contained a standing chariot, two ponies positioned in a jumping position, a bronze and red glass brooch, and various other valuable items.

The shield was found face down in the chariot, covered by the skeleton of a man who was probably once its owner, which dates back to around 320-174 BC.

Experts believe this “warrior” was over 46 years old and was probably a more respected member of his community, as he was buried with an offering of six pigs and adjacent to an additional grave of a younger man and hurt.

“The scale and preservation of the Pocklington tank burial have no British parallels, providing better insight into the Iron Age era,” said Paula Ware of MAP Archaeological Practice, who has finished the excavations.

After undergoing a long conservation process, the ornate design of the shield was finally revealed.

It sports a swirling pattern on its face, typical of early Celtic art and the so-called “La Tène” culture that crossed Europe from around 450 to 1 BC.

Experts believe the design was crafted by hammering the shield from its reverse side, allowing the designer to fashion an asymmetrical pattern of mollusk shells into a series of three-legged whorls shaped like a triskel around the raised central boss.

“We don’t know how the man died. There are blunt traumas, but they wouldn’t have killed him, ”Ms. Ware said.

“I don’t think he died in battle; it is very likely that he died of old age.

“What was his role, I can’t tell you. He picked up some pretty goodies along the way – he’s certainly no run-of-the-mill. ‘

Additionally, added Ware, the nature of the burial is indicative of a belief in an afterlife.

“These horses were placed with their hooves on the ground and their hind legs as if they were going to jump out of the grave,” she said.

“To me that certainly indicates that they were moving on – he has his food, his weapons and the means to travel.”

The beautiful shield, pictured, was found in the 'Warrior's Tomb' unearthed in Pocklington, Yorkshire last year at a Persimmon Homes construction site dubbed 'The Mile'

The beautiful shield, pictured, was found in the ‘Warrior’s Tomb’ unearthed in Pocklington, Yorkshire last year at a Persimmon Homes construction site dubbed ‘The Mile’

The tomb also contained a standing chariot and two ponies positioned in a jumping position, illustrated, as well as a bronze and red glass brooch and various other valuable items.

The tomb also contained a standing chariot and two ponies positioned in a jumping position, illustrated, as well as a bronze and red glass brooch and various other valuable items.

“The shield has a scalloped border. This hitherto unknown design feature is unlike any other Iron Age discovery in Europe, which adds to its uniqueness, ”said Ware.

“The popular belief is that the elaborate metal-faced shields were purely ceremonial, reflecting status, but were not used in combat,” she added.

“Our investigation disputes this with evidence of a puncture wound in the typical shield of a sword. Signs of repair can also be seen, suggesting that the shield was not only old, but probably been used well.

The only piece of similar armor to be found – the so-called Wandsworth Shield – was recovered from the Thames in 1849 and is currently in the collections of the British Museum.

The shield was found face down in the chariot, covered by the skeleton of a man who likely once owned it.  Experts believe this

The shield was found face down in the chariot, covered by the skeleton of a man who likely once owned it. Experts believe this “warrior” was over 46 years old and was probably a more respected member of his community, as he was buried with an offering of six pigs and next to an additional grave of an older man. young and injured.

“The excavation of The Mile development is a truly magnificent find for British history,” said Scott Waters, director of Persimmon Homes Yorkshire.

“We believe this recognition and discovery should stay in the region,” he added, the shield to be donated to a local museum – possibly near Burnby Hall.

Full research results are being prepared for publication, in an Oxbow Books text, in Spring 2020.

The find was discovered in a housing estate near the town of Pocklington, Yorkshire, with a chariot and the remains of two horses, two humans and sacrificial pigs

The find was discovered in a housing estate near the town of Pocklington, Yorkshire, with a chariot and the remains of two horses, two humans and sacrificial pigs

The only similar piece of armor to be found - the so-called Wandsworth shield, pictured - was recovered from the Thames in 1849 and is currently in the collections of the British Museum.

The only similar piece of armor to be found – the so-called Wandsworth shield, pictured – was recovered from the Thames in 1849 and is currently in the collections of the British Museum.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRITTANY IRON AGE?

The Iron Age in Britain began at the end of the Bronze Age.

It started around 800 BC and ended in 43 AD when the Romans invaded.

As the name suggests, this period saw large-scale changes thanks to the introduction of ironworking technology.

During this period, Britain’s population likely exceeded one million.

This was made possible by new forms of agriculture, such as the introduction of new varieties of barley and wheat.

The invention of the iron-tipped plow made it possible for the first time to cultivate in heavy clay soils.

Some of the major advancements in the course included the introduction of the potter’s wheel, the wheel (used for woodworking), and the rotary grinding wheel for grinding grain.

There are nearly 3,000 Iron Age hill forts in the UK. Some were used as permanent settlements, others were used as sites for gatherings, commerce and religious activities.

Back then, most people lived on small farms with extended families.

The standard house was a rotunda, made of wood or stone with a thatched or peat roof.

Funeral practices were varied, but it seems that most people were eliminated by “excarnation,” meaning they were deliberately exposed.

There are also preserved bog bodies from this period, which show evidence of violent deaths in the form of ritual and sacrificial killings.

Towards the end of this period, there was an increasing Roman influence from the western Mediterranean and southern France.

It seems that before the Roman conquest of England in AD 43, they had already established ties with many tribes and may have wielded some political influence.

After AD 43, all of Wales and England under Hadrian’s Wall became part of the Roman Empire, while Iron Age life in Scotland and Ireland continued for longer.


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