Vere Gordon Childe, 1930

The Bronze Age

First Published: by Cambridge University Press, 1930
Mark-up: Steve Painter


In contrast to the apparent peace and prosperity of the preceding period, the Late Bronze Age was an epoch of turmoil and migration, though it witnessed immense industrial and economic progress, forced upon the barbarians by these times of stress. The growth of population in the tranquil centuries of the Middle Bronze Age among peoples who had not yet settled down to the laborious methods of really sedentary cultivation resulted for the first time in a genuine pressure and congestion on the land. Climatic conditions — intensified drought, followed ultimately by a return to moister and colder conditions that favoured the spread of forest at the expense of pastures — may have aggravated the land hunger in individual areas. The cumulative effect of these factors was to produce a bitter struggle for the fertile valleys in Central Europe and the uprooting of small hordes. The regime of bloody tribal wars, later described so grimly in the pages of Tacitus and profitable only to the Roman slave-dealer, had already been inaugurated. The repercussions of the turmoil reached Britain on the one hand and the East Mediterranean coast on the other, there to be complicated by events in Asia that still elude our ken. But the Mycenaean civilisation collapsed under barbarian pressure, and northerners overran Anatolia, threatening the Egyptian and Hittite Empires.

These latter disturbances hampered mining and metallurgy in Asia Minor. And Assyrian military requisitions and monopolistic control of ores further restricted the supply. At the same time the state of universal war increased the demand to unprecedented proportions. In continental Europe we witness not only the struggle for land but also one for the control of ores, accompanied by a great intensification of mining activities and the growth of a trade in scrap-metal, marked by the so-called founders’ hoards. In Hither Asia the contest for booty was equally accompanied by a quest for new supplies of metal. The merchants and craftsmen of Phoenicia in particular, cut off by barbarian inroads and Assyrian monopolies from local supplies, sought compensations in the West. As at the beginning of the Age of Metals, fresh bands of prospectors sailed from the Eastern Mediterranean, combining kidnapping and piracy with legitimate trade as the Odyssey so brightly indicates. Their activities helped to introduce to the western world the secret of the new metal, iron, and a whole series of new types and processes.

Yet the westward tracks of Oriental traders crossed paths already furrowed at an earlier date by pirate galleys from the West Mediterranean isles. The raiders whose descents on the Oriental empires are such a feature of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries before our era may, when finally repulsed, have carried with them westward some of the arts and organisation learnt during periods of mercenary service under Hittites and Egyptians. Despite the doubts of eminent Orientalists, the Shardana, Shakalasha and Tursha who harried the confines of Egypt were surely in some sense Sardinians, Sicilians and Etruscans. Whether they hailed in the first instance from Sardinia, Sicily and Italy or only retreated there after failures on the eastern coasts, is far more doubtful.[1] Certain it is that the islands and peninsula were the seats of a curious Late Bronze Age civilisation which, despite a strong Oriental flavour, was based at least industrially on Central European rather than on Aegean or Asiatic traditions. The peninsula and islands being now incorporated in the continental economic system and having taken over from the Aegean the role of mediators in the diffusion of Oriental inventions, a few words on the cultures of Sicily, Sardinia and Italy in the age of transition from bronze to iron will form a necessary prelude to any account of events north of the Alps.

At the same time one general aspect of life in the latter region and also in the East Mediterranean area must be touched upon here; I refer to the spread of cremation cemeteries termed urnfields — a phenomenon already attributed to the Middle Bronze Age in Hungary and Upper Italy, but now becoming general from the Euphrates to the Irish Channel. The bodies of the dead were cremated, their ashes enshrined in cinerary urns and these buried close together with other vessels in extensive cemeteries, termed urnfields. The grave is seldom marked by a barrow; on the other hand cinerary urns were often deposited as secondary interments in earlier barrows. In several parts of Central Europe it was the practice to bore a hole through the walls or base of the cinerary urn. German archaeologists term such an aperture the ghost-hole (Seelenloch), believing that it was designed to allow the soul of the departed to escape from the jar that contained his mortal remains.

It should be remembered that cremation was not a new rite, first introduced during the Late Bronze Age. Even in Early Helladic graves on Levkas we find burnt human bones enclosed in large jars. And there are instances of Neolithic cremations from Central Europe, Brittany and England. Isolated instances occur widely during the Early Bronze Age, and the practice was by no means rare in the Tumulus culture of the Middle Bronze Age. To the same period we have assigned a number of barrows covering inurned ashes from the British Isles. Even urnfields may, in Hungary and North Italy, go back to the Middle Bronze Age, but they become general first in the Late Bronze Age or the contemporary Early Iron Age of Greece and Syria.

Conversely it must be insisted that inhumation was not universally abandoned in the latter period. It remained the regular rite in the Illyrian regions, Southern Italy, Sicily and Macedonia till well on in the Iron Age and was still freely practised also west of the Rhine and in parts of Greece. Nowhere, indeed, would burial rite alone constitute a reliable criterion of age. Moreover, in view of the wide distribution of the rite in earlier times, the racial movements inferred simply from the appearance of cremation in Greece and Syria at the beginning of the Early Iron Age (equivalent there to our Late Bronze Age) are very insecurely based.

We begin our account of Late Bronze Age cultures with Italy and the adjacent isles, even though iron was rapidly replacing bronze there; for in the Early Iron Age deposits we find bronze tools of the types still exclusively used north of the Alps, and in the latter regions types of the more southern Iron Age appear in a purely Bronze Age context. Greece on the other hand may still be excluded as having no direct influence on the bronze industry north of the Alps after its very early passage into the Iron Age.


During the earlier phases of the Bronze Age, as in the previous Copper Age, the culture of Sicily[2] had maintained an essentially East Mediterranean character. During the first half of Orsi's Siculan II period, which corresponds to our Middle Bronze Age, the native culture had been dominated by Minoan industry and art. Palaces were built with stone foundations as in Greece, and shrines furnished with ritual objects of a Minoan character. The dead were buried in rock-hewn family vaults reminiscent of the usual Mycenaean chamber tombs, though carrying on a tradition rooted in the island since the Copper Age (Orsi's Siculan I). The Siculan II bronzes are inspired directly by Minoan models, though mostly of local manufacture. So we find long rapiers referable to Type II a from the Shaft Graves of Mycenae (chapter III) and daggers equally of Minoan ancestry. The common razors (Fig. 83), though a specifically Siculan variant, have likewise Cretan prototypes. Fibulae of violin-bow form were worn as east of the Adriatic. And direct imports from Greece were plentiful: the early tombs are furnished with a comparative abundance of Mycenaean (LM III) vases and Late Minoan beads were worn.

In the later half of the Siculan II period, represented by cemeteries like Cassibile and Finnochito, farther inland than those described above, the industrial orientation of the island had changed. The dead were indeed still often buried in chamber tombs, a habit which persisted into the full Iron Age or Siculan III. The pottery, too, preserved native traditions enlarged by the inclusion of orientalizing forms such as askoi. The safety-pins evolved farther along the separate lines sketched in chapter III. But the remaining bronzes tend to conform more and more to standard types current at the same period in Upper Italy and the Late Bronze Age north of the Alps.

Shaft-hole axes indeed persist in a local form even into Sicilian III, but beside them we find in hoards winged celts, socketed celts and lug-adzes. The spearheads have proper cast sockets and sometimes eyelets in the base of the blade. The commonest razors now conform exactly to the rectangular “Villanovan” type with the handle riveted on (Fig. 88) despite some interesting transitional forms with maple leaf blades and flat tangs. This is the period of the serpentine and elbow fibulae (Fig. 113) supplemented by simple arcs.

A very similar culture reigned at the same time in Southern Italy, a region that had always been closely allied to Sicily since Neolithic times. One notable type, assignable strictly to the local Iron Age, was a short sword provided with a flange carried right round the flat tang to hold the plates of the hilt and the pommel. The type is directly derived from a familiar LM III short sword.

In both regions large founders’ hoards[3] attest at once an economic reorganisation and social disturbance. Both Oriental and northern elements have been obtruded upon the native culture in a manner not yet plain. At the same time the resultant cultures exerted an influence on the West as the Siculan fibulae from the hoard at Huelva show.[4] How the Siculan and South Italian spearheads with eyelets in the base of the blade are related to the similar and contemporary British type is less clear.


Far more insular and consequently puzzling is the vigorous civilisation that grew up in the great island farther north. Sardinia is rich in copper and silver.

Even during the Copper Age[5] it had been an important centre of population and industry. Elaborate rock-cut tombs, sometimes carved with bulls’ protomae and including marble statuettes among their grave goods, disclose Aegean inspiration. On the other hand, numerous bell-beakers and West European daggers are clearly occidental features. A similar blending of Eastern and Western traits characterises the Late Bronze Age of the island.

Chambered tombs continued to be used as burial places even then, but have for the most part been plundered. The period is better known from dwellings — peculiar round towers termed nuraghi. The Sardinian Bronze Age is therefore often alluded to as the nuragic period.

A nuraghe[6] is an approximately conical tower, built without mortar, of rough, almost megalithic blocks. The only external opening was a low, tunnel-like doorway that eventually gave access to a large beehive-chamber. A winding stair in the thickness of the wall led to one or more upper storeys of similar plan. The nuraghi were evidently the castles of martial chieftains. At their feet clustered the round beehive huts of their peasant henchmen. Such strongholds are strung out at relatively short intervals along the valleys or fertile plains, evidently implying a peculiar clan organisation in which the need for defence outweighed all other considerations.

In addition to the fortresses a number of partly coeval structures of a sacral character have recently been explored by Prof. Taramelli.[7] These generally include subterranean sanctuaries from which numerous votive bronzes may be recovered. That at Santa Anastasia consisted of an outer temple with a facade of dressed stone, from which a flight of steps led down to a circular pit covered with a corbelled roof.

The castles had been long occupied and repeatedly plundered, leaving few relics of their original occupants, A better idea of the bronze industry of the nuragic age may be obtained from numerous hoards[8] that testify in some cases to the piety of the islanders, in others to the disturbed conditions of the times. These depots belong for the most part to a time when iron was already in general use on the Italian mainland, but still contain archaic types, directly descended from quite ancient models and accordingly produced by a school of craftsmen whose divergent specialisation must have begun in pure Bronze Age times. Their archaic traditions are rooted mainly in continental workshops. Few industrial types or weapons are East Mediterranean or Asiatic, though eastern influences are conspicuous in the votive bronzes. So, among the axes, curiously splayed flanged celts, two-eared palstaves and two-looped socketed celts were the commonest types current. (The founders’ hoards contain also old Copper Age flat celts collected for recasting.) On the other hand, double-axes and axe-adzes might be Aegean types, though the tubular projection that surrounds the shaft-hole is more reminiscent of Hungary. Again the typical weapons are curious bronze-hilted daggers, rather like Early Bronze Age forms, or very archaic triangular or ogival types, swords with pronounced midrib and spur for the hilt or flanged tang. Socketed spearheads, socketed sickles and rectangular razors, resembling the Villanovan blades but that the handle was cast in one piece with the blade, are also conspicuous. The rather rough pottery includes notably askoi and jugs with thrown-back necks and cut-away lips, both old Aegean and Anatolian shapes.

In the nuragic sanctuaries and hoards we find an extraordinary variety of votive statuettes and models in bronze. Figures of warriors, crude and barbaric in execution but full of life, are particularly common. The warrior was armed with a dagger and bow-and-arrows or a sword, covered with a two-horned helmet and protected by a circular buckler. The dress and armament leave no doubt as to the substantial identity of the Sardinian infantryman with the raiders and mercenaries depicted on Egyptian monuments as “Shardana”. At the same time numerous votive barques, also of bronze, demonstrate the importance of the sea in Sardinian life.

This extraordinary culture accordingly shows indications of relations with the West — two-eared palstaves, socketed sickles — with Hungary and even perhaps with the Caucasus (statuettes and other models very like the Sardinian have turned up there) in addition to Central Europe and Upper Italy. Amber beads from the nuraghi may even mean connections with the far North. Were the Sardinian smiths originative innovators whose new models were carried westward and imitated there, or merely slaves who copied at the dictation of their pirate masters the odd types the latter picked up in distant raids? And how are the nuraghi related to the Scottish brochs, similar in several architectural details and evidently symptomatic of an analogous clan organisation? Above all, were the Sardinians of the Late — nay belated — Bronze Age descendants of the Copper Age population who had seen service under Egyptians and Hittites, or did new arrivals from Asia Minor or the Caucasus dominate these? Such questions inevitably rise only to be dismissed as unsolved.


While Sicily, South Italy and Sardinia were new and by no means secure acquisitions of the continental economic province, it had included Upper Italy since the beginning of the Bronze Age. There, as noted in the last chapter, the dominant cultural group during the Middle Bronze Age was that of the terremaricoli, who even penetrated to the extreme South as well. A later phase in the same people's culture is illustrated by the urnfields of Bismantova and Fontanella south of the Po, of Pianello in the Marche (East Central Italy) and Timmari in Apulia.

These cemeteries are marked as later than the typical terremare by the types of razor, safety-pin and bracelet. The razor has a quadrangular blade with separate handle riveted on (Fig. 88). In addition to violin-bow fibulae, generally with beads on, and sometimes with figure 8 twists in (after the style of Fig. 112), the bow, simple arched bows and others with two loops were current. Ingot torques with twisted wire bodies and wire finger-rings with spiral ends were also worn. The distinctive pot form is already a storeyed or biconical urn. Such consist of a base in the form of an inverted conical bowl with inturned rim surmounted by a conical neck with everted lip. The parts are separated by a pronounced shoulder rather than a keel. The ornament, restricted to the upper cone, is limited to incised triangles, chevrons, U-shaped or horizontal S figures and dimples or warts encircled by grooves (Fig. 181). A hoard, of the same date (Randall-Maclver considers it later), indicates that cups of beaten bronze, decorated with embossed knobs, were already in use. These cemeteries may be dated between 1200BC and 1050BC.

A little later a belt of Italy from the Adige to the Tiber is found to be thickly settled by an industrious folk, termed Villanovans after the suburb of Bologna where their culture was first identified. Pigorini and his disciples hold that they were just the descendants of the terremaricoli; they would then be the Umbri and Latini of Roman tradition. Randall-Maclver prefers to invoke a second invasion from an unknown “Hungary” to explain the Villanovans. Assuming the first interpretation to be the more correct, as it is the more economical, we may call the northern Villanovans Umbrians, the southern ones, differentiated from the former by minor peculiarities, Latins. We must note, too, that the Villanovan culture is divided between three chronological phases, termed respectively Benacci I, Benacci II and Arnoaldi after the peasants on whose farms typical cemeteries were dug up. Iron was in use throughout these three periods and the two last are excluded altogether from the purview of this book.

The Villanovans, like their ancestors of the terremare, were primarily peasant farmers, living in mean huts grouped in villages of very modest size. The round huts themselves with walls of wattle and daub are represented for us by the models used as ossuaries among the “Latins” (Fig. 185); the famous temple of Vesta preserves a glorified version of the same primitive hut.

But these farming communities included skilled metalworkers and traders. Round Bologna vast depots of scrap-metal, the so-called “foundries”, have been discovered. Old tools, weapons and ornaments were gathered here for resmelting from every corner of Europe as the types included in the hoards show; even British socketed sickles are represented. In return for such scrap, for ores, gold, amber and salt, Villanovan bronzes were exported as far as Denmark and Transylvania. At the same time relations, direct or indirect, were maintained with the Eastern Mediterranean; glass beads from Villanovan graves leave no doubt on this score. Villanovan bronze work agrees too closely with Phoenician and Assyrian for the resemblance to be accidental. And from that quarter came eventually knowledge of the new metal, iron. In Benacci I times, however, that material is represented only by a few small objects that might have been imports.

Late Bronze Age urnsThe graves were simply holes in the ground, sometimes lined with stone slabs, in which the cinerary urn was deposited. The ossuary itself was sometimes enclosed within a large jar termed a dolion, especially in Etruria and Latium. In this region, too, a receptacle hollowed out of a block of stone occasionally replaced the dolion. The dolion is generally a rough two-storeyed jar. The Villanovan ossuary is equally two storeyed. It resembles a bowl with inverted rim and a horizontal handle, surmounted by a conical neck with splayed rim. It is, that is, a biconical urn closely related to those from Bismantova or Pianello, though with a broader shoulder (Fig. 182). Often it was actually made of two pieces of hammered bronze united by rivets. More commonly the vessel is of black carboniferous pottery ornamented with elaborate maeanders, triangles, lozenges and rosettes. Sometimes small bronze studs were set in the clay to enhance the effect. As noted, the Latins used hut models as ossuaries. The urn was covered in the Umbrian area by a dish, in the Latin often by a helmet. While cremation was the general rite, isolated inhumation graves are known from all districts.

The commonest tools are celts with terminal wings and very wide blades, knives with a spur-like tang, quadrangular double-edged razors (Fig. 88) or semilunar single-edged specimens (a later type), tweezers and fish-hooks. The best known weapon is the socketed spearhead, but antennae swords (Fig. 57) were imported and presumably used. The head was protected with ovoid bronze casques, surmounted by broad, decorated crests. Horses were controlled by bronze bits, the cheek-pieces in some instances taking the form of stylised steeds. Among the ornaments may be mentioned broad girdles of hammered bronze, pins surmounted by small knobs or terminating in a shepherd's crook, simple arc fibulae and early developments thereof, massive bracelets with overlapping ends, and ribbon cylinders. Besides ossuaries, cups and buckets (situlae) were made of hammered bronze.

Villanovan art is unmistakable. The vases, girdles and helmets of bronze are decorated with rows of bosses, beads or concentric rings, all embossed, and sometimes supplemented by engraved lines that reproduce the patterns known already from the pottery. A very distinctive and popular motive is moreover a pair of birds’ heads projecting from a circle or wheel (Fig. 27, no. 3). The design is presumably a solar symbol connected with the sun disk of the Egyptians probably through a Hittite or Phoenician variant.


Lausitz grave group, after AntiquityThe knowledge of ironworking naturally traversed the Alps from Italy with a material retardation, so that even throughout Benacci I times a pure Late Bronze Age was ruling in Central Europe. Here two or three great urn field groups succeed the Early Bronze Age cultures in the fertile valleys and along the riverine trade routes, while the Tumulus culture persists in the uplands and heaths, modified by these neighbours.

The most conspicuous of the urnfield cultures is known by the name of Lausitz, a part of Saxony and Western Silesia where it is richly represented. It originated there or farther east out of Aunjetitz antecedents, possibly mixed with other undefined ingredients. From this cradle it spread to occupy the whole area from the Saale to the Vistula and from the Spree to the Austrian Danube and the Slovakian mountains.

The Lausitz folk were primarily peasant farmers, but were at pains to control trade routes and supplies of ore. In their communities dwelt competent smiths whose moulds, anvils and founders’ hoards have come down to us. The people dwelt probably in log-cabins built of trunks laid horizontally and supported by posts, quite like the dwellings of American pioneers. The houses were normally long one-roomed halls with the entry on the small side.

The dead were cremated, and their ashes, enclosed in cinerary urns, deposited in extensive cemeteries, sometimes under a barrow. The characteristic Lausitz ossuary is constituted by two truncated cones placed base to base. It was normally covered by a dish and accompanied by a high-handled mug, an amphora and a rough pot. In later graves, vases with side spouts, termed feeding-bowls, vessels in the shape of animals, and clay rattles occur. Apart from the rough pots, Lausitz vases are generally smooth and often burnished. At first they were buff in colour; later dark-faced wares became more popular, and graphite was even used to intensify the effect. The ossuary is normally plain, save for scratches radiating from the base. Other vessels were decorated at first with large conical warts projecting out of a round depression. Later warts gave place to flutings or corrugations, oblique or forming semicircles (Fig. 186). The Lausitz people used celts with terminal wings and an ear, or a socketed form, knives with a spur for the attachment of the handle or with a metal handle terminating in a ring, button sickles and eventually horseshoe razors and tweezers. But celts and perforated axes of stone, arrowheads of flint or bone and many implements of horn and bone were still used. The favourite weapons were spears with lanceolate socketed heads, and arrows, tipped with flint, bone or socketed bronze points, supplemented by comparatively rare swords with flanged tangs. The horse had certainly been domesticated. He was controlled by bits ending in horn cheek-pieces.

Common ornaments in Lausitz graves are pins with a vertically pierced eyelet in a spur projecting from the shaft, massive armlets with overlapping tapering ends, cylinders, ingot torques with twisted body, finger-rings of several coils of wire terminating in spirals, spectacle-spiral pendants and flat buttons with a loop on the back. Safety-pins were rarely worn; all were of the two-member family with a flattened oval bow. Beads of glass or amber are only occasionally found in graves. Gold, on the other hand, chiefly in the form of wire, is not uncommon in Bohemian settlements. The precious metal must have been carried in this form as a medium of exchange, but curious ornaments were made by plaiting gold wire together. Finally in the later phase of the Lausitz culture a few bronze cups of Italian style found their way to Bohemia.

This culture was cradled, as we have indicated, in a southerly corner of the North European plain. Thence it spread over the mountains into Bohemia and across Moravia into Lower Austria and Slovakia. On the borders of its homeland it grew into the so-called Silesian culture, which likewise spread southward and was flourishing in Eastern Bohemia and Moravia when iron was introduced into those regions along the amber trade route from Italy to East Prussia.

In Central Bohemia the Lausitz invaders met the people of the Tumulus culture advancing from the West as well as remnants of the old Aunjetitz population. Under these conditions there arose here in the latest Bronze Age (Kraft E) a specialised group, termed the Knoviz culture, which deserves a brief mention. Besides its urnfield cemeteries we know here deep pits, some perhaps dwellings, others rubbish pits or silos. In the latter we find, together with broken animal bones and other kitchen refuse, human bones, hacked about with knives and split to extract the marrow. Evidently cannibalism was not unknown to this people in Central Europe. Civil servants, engaged in suppressing the practice in Africa or New Guinea, may like to remember that it was current in Europe 3000 years ago, and that among a comparatively advanced group. For the cannibals made splendid pots. Their cinerary urns are based upon a degenerate Lausitz ossuary that has lost its angularity, surmounted by a swelling neck, so as to give the impression of two vases one on the top of the other. Broad-brimmed bowls with twisted pillar-like handles rising from the shoulder also deserve mention.


Bronze vesselsThe Knoviz culture already shows the influence of the South-west Bohemian Tumulus culture which in its turn had been profoundly modified by contact with a second group of urnfields. The latter had developed on the Upper Danube and its tributaries in Austria, Bavaria and the Tyrol, whence it spread down the Rhine and across Switzerland. This Alpine culture is a far less coherent group than the Lausitz; probably it had several roots constituting originally distinct groups, and no doubt it absorbed in its expansion diverse elements. It may have originated among some descendants of Early Bronze Age folk dwelling in the valleys (at Gemeinlebarn in Lower Austria and Straubing in Bavaria both periods are represented in the same cemetery), influenced (whatever that may mean) by Hungarian groups, the Lausitz culture and its neighbours, the tumulus-builders. Lausitz “influence” is certainly patent in the use of typical Lausitz ossuaries in Lower Austria and even far away in the Tyrol. Some indeed would contend that it was constitutive: the whole group would owe its rise and specific character to an actual infusion of Lausitz folk, perhaps as an organising force bringing together other communities. That certainly is a simple explanation, perhaps too simple.

Yet in its general character the North Alpine culture was very similar to the Lausitz, though richer and more warlike. Its authors dwelt in log-cabins or pit-dwellings. They walled off projecting spurs of the mountains (promontory forts) or defended hilltops, the walls in each case being of stone and turf, strengthened with a palisade.[9] As elsewhere, these fortifications would be places of refuge rather than permanent villages; the latter were probably situated in the valleys. The miners of the Tyrolese copper lodes and the rock-salt of Hallstatt, whose methods have been sketched in an earlier chapter, belonged to our North Alpine group. And the rich cemetery of Hallstatt, that gives its name to the First Iron Age in Central Europe, is an urnfield of the type described below, though of later date. The long timbered galleries, the shafts and ladders and other workings which the visitor to Hallstatt may still admire are apparently pure Bronze Age.

Cremation was of course the normal burial rite, and an urn was deposited in every grave. Sometimes, however, the ashes were laid outside it. The urn itself, often very large, was globular or piriform, but always provided with a cylindrical neck surmounted by a projecting brim (Fig. 183). It might serve as a dolion containing the ossuary proper, generally a smaller version of the same type. In the Tyrol the ossuaries’ rims are supported by twisted pillar-like handles (hence the name “pillar urns”). The walls may be decorated with warts and “false cord impressions” obtained by rolling a twisted ring over the soft clay. With such cylinder-neck urns, true Lausitz ossuaries are sometimes encountered as noted above. The accessory vases jugs, dishes, and cups are usually fine, often polished with graphite and decorated with incised patterns, flutings or conical warts.

Typical implements are celts (axes and adzes) with terminal wings and an ear (Fig. 17), socketed chisels and gouges, a wide variety of single-bladed knives, grooved sickles, fish-hooks, and razors with an openwork metal handle, at first with an irregular oval blade slit at the end, later horseshoe shaped (Fig. 87). The distinctive weapons are slashing swords with richly engraved bronze hilts or with flanged tangs, giving place later (Kraft E) to Hungarian, Morigen and antennae types. In addition to swords the warrior used spears with socketed heads, and bronze-tipped arrows.

A wealth of ornaments is found in these graves in contrast to the poor Lausitz interments. The commonest pins have large poppy, vase (Fig. 109), turban or bulb heads. Safety-pins of violin-bow type are found sporadically in the Tyrol, and others with a wiry bow twisted in figure 8s and terminating in a horizontal spiral catch-plate, in Bavaria, massive bracelets decorated with ribs (Fig. 116) encircled the arms. The girdle was fastened with disk-shaped clasps. On it or on a necklace were hung pendants in the form of a wheel as well as glass, amber, and gold beads and spectacle-spirals of bronze wire. Gold disks ornamented with rings of stamped circles have been found in some graves and were doubtless solar symbols.

Finally, vessels of beaten bronze occur even in the earlier phase (Reinecke and Kraft D). The commonest are cups decorated with embossed circles as in Italy. But a contemporary barrow at Milavec in Bohemia contained a remarkable bronze bowl, shaped like the usual cinerary urn but mounted on a little wheeled car.

In art a revival of spiral decoration is to be observed on sword hilts of phase D. But even then concentric circles and arcs were commoner, and in phase E these alone survive.

In addition to the solar symbolism of the pendants, curious cult objects now meet us in the settlements. These are made of clay in the form of a pair of horns and very likely served as firedogs, the hearth being of course a place of sanctity. Nonetheless these objects are derived in the last resort from the “Horns of Consecration” that had played a prominent part in Minoan cult from Early Minoan times till the collapse of the Mycenaean culture.

Bronze shield, BohemiaThe urnfields just described were in their earlier phases concentrated in the valleys of the Upper Danube, the Inn and the Isar. In the highlands on every side the tumulus-builders lived on still. But they now practised cremation regularly, though seldom, save in Bohemia, enclosing the ashes in cinerary urns. Their pottery was profoundly influenced by that of the urnfields, and most of the bronze types just described might also be found under barrows. The old bronze-studded wooden targe was now at times replaced by a buckler of hammered bronze. Unlike the British products, the Bohemian and South German shields are definitely convex all over and lack any distinct umbo. They were strengthened with concentric ridges hammered up from the inner side and were manipulated by a pair of small handles and one big central handle (Fig. 30).

The North Alpine urnfield culture is of such importance in British archaeology that its development during the last phase of the Bronze Age (Kraft E, Reinecke Hallstatt A) and into the Early Iron Age deserves a rather more detailed examination. Two zones must be distinguished. The inner zone, extending northward to the Main with its core in Switzerland and Bavaria, was nourished by the industry of the lake-dwellings and the trade of the western amber route.

The Bronze Age lake-villages of Switzerland and Upper Bavaria seem to result from the synoecism of older pile-hamlets[10] effected under the leadership of the urnfield folk with the collaboration of the authors of the Rhone culture and perhaps of immigrants from Upper Italy.[11] The new pile-villages, situated farther from the present shore than their neolithic forerunners, were regular industrial settlements. Individual villages would even specialise in the manufacture of a particular kind of article, for instance, armlets. Their manufactures were exported to Hungary, Silesia and the North Sea.

In return, Danish bronzes and amber, Hungarian swords, Villanovan horse-trappings and metal vessels flowed in. Stimulated by the blended traditions of their compatriots and by contact with foreign centres of industry, the clever smiths devised original types of tool, weapon and ornament.

Noteworthy among these are knives like Fig. 77, antennae and Morigen swords (Fig. 56), horseshoe razors (Fig. 87), pins with hollow globular heads decorated with inlaid eyes, and great hollow bracelets either closed and kidney-shaped (Nieren-ringe) or with open splayed-out ends. More generalised types of course occur. While socketed chisels and gouges were quite the rule, winged celts with the wings near the butt and a loop (Fig. 17) were far commoner than socketed celts. Bronze bits (Fig. 98) were manufactured to control the horses, though those with horn cheek-pieces remained in use.

The fine black or grey pottery includes most urnfield forms and, in addition, globular vessels with a narrow out-turned rim, and tulip-shaped beakers with an almost pointed base. Fluted decoration, fretwork, as in the Tumulus culture, and very neat engraved patterns, often curvilinear, adorned the vases. A rare technique was to inlay the depression of the fretwork with tin. The latest vases show the polychrome decoration of Hallstatt types stripes blackened with graphite on a ferruginous red wash.

The art of the lake-dwellings[12] is characterised above all by the minute exactness with which the linear patterns were executed. The patterns themselves include circles and semicircles but no spirals. Some pots, how ever, exhibit a sort of maeander in which the angles have been rounded off. In this connection we may note, too, rattles of animal form and the horn-shaped fire-dogs already described.

The civilisation of the lake-dwellings in Bavaria, Switzerland and Savoy, begun already in Reinecke's phase D of the Bronze Age, reached its zenith in the succeeding phase but lasted into the Early Iron Age (Reinecke's Hallstatt B). In that period invaders sacked the villages, while a recurrence of moister climatic conditions led to their final desertion. But by that time urnfield folk, whose funerary pottery shows them to be directly descended from the lake-dwellers, were settling in Northern Spain.

The urnfield people from the Danube basin occupied the valleys of the Rhine, the Neckar and the Main, bringing in their train Swiss and Bavarian elements and absorbing others from the native Tumulus groups. Thus we find inhumations as well as cremations. Throughout this area the essential features of the urnfield culture in its later phase were well maintained, and Swiss bronzes circulated freely. But directly we cross the Main or the Saone we enter impoverished provincial regions where archaic urnfield types persisted in a context that transcends the limits of the pure Bronze Age. The urnfield folk spread, that is, both into Holland and Central France, but lost touch with the creative centre and became economically isolated.

We have already described the gradual spread of the Tumulus culture across Central France. Particularly in Aube we have many burials of this class assignable to phase D.[13] But the tumulus builders were followed by urnfield folk. A cemetery of this type, discovered at Pouges-les-Eaux, Nivre.[14] is the best available evidence of this, though many sherds labelled “age du bronze” in French museums indicate a wider distribution for the culture. At Pouges, as on the Rhine, inhumations occurred side by side with cremations. The bronzes included two razors, one with openwork handle of the type current on the Upper Danube in phase D, the other flat-tanged like some Sicilian and all British blades (Fig. 90). The pots, on the contrary, look rather like degenerate versions of the types current in Switzerland during phase E (Hallstatt A), to which also most of the pins could be assigned. It looks almost as if a band of urnfield folk had clung tenaciously to some types current in their homeland at the time of their departure while adopting contemporary models in other directions. At the same time the hoards[15] suggest that South-eastern France was winning a certain independence of Central European traditions and was susceptible to currents coming, not from the Danube or Upper Italy, but from Sardinia and Sicily.

The phenomena observed on the Lower Rhine in Belgium and Holland in other respects reproduce those noticed in France. The urnfield folk spread thither slowly and mixed with tumulus-builders. Urnfield types of vases, all very degenerate, persisted well into the Hallstatt period. Scarcely any bronzes are found in graves, and hoards are inordinately rare. Still razors of archaic form occur as in France.


The Teutonic craftsmen in Denmark, Sweden and North Germany maintained the high standard of skill achieved during the Middle Bronze Age. The austere beauty of the earlier art was, however, sacrificed in the more florid products of the later. In general, Teutonic culture in the Late Bronze Age is only a richer autonomous development of that described in the last chapter. Foreign influences were certainly absorbed, but without causing any interruption in the tradition. The most radical was seen in burial rites. Cremation rapidly replaced inhumation. But even this change was by no means catastrophic. During the first half of the Late Bronze Age a barrow was still regularly erected over the remains. The ashes were frequently deposited in hollowed tree-trunks, big enough for a complete skeleton, as in the preceding period. Urn-burial on the contrary was at first exceptional. The rare ossuaries, however, are generally related to the biconical Lausitz type, showing the very strong influence from that culture that reached the Baltic. Another, but certainly native, innovation of the period was to construct round the grave the outline of a ship in stone, a practice that clearly anticipates the burial rites of Viking times.[16].

The Late Bronze Age of Scandinavia falls quite easily into three phases, corresponding to Montelius’ Periods III, IV and V. The regular interchange of products with the south makes it clear that these are parallel to Reinecke's Bronze D and Hallstatt A and B-C respectively. The last phase of the Teutonic Bronze Age is therefore contemporary with the full Iron Age in Southern Germany and the Danube basin. North-eastern Germany was becoming increasingly important during the later phases, but during Montelius’ V Teutonic culture was also spreading westward to the Upper Rhine and the Dutch coasts. Eventually, however, the brilliant native development was arrested with the political and industrial expansion of the Kelts late in the Iron Age.

A few characteristic Teutonic products may now be briefly mentioned. Socketed celts were regularly used throughout the age. At first they exhibited a ridge in relief down the middle of either face reminiscent of the projecting ends of the split knee-shaft between the flanges of the Middle Bronze Age celt, but by Period IV this motive had become purely conventional. At the same time winged celts, like those of the North Alpine area, were imported. The single-edged knives were scarcely altered at first, but in Period V, when Swiss and other southern types were imported, the native knife- handles sprouted out into opposed scrolls like the pommels of antennae swords. The horse’s head handles of the razors were becoming increasingly conventionalised in Period III and gave way to swans’ heads or pairs of spirals in Period IV. To that period, too, belong blades engraved with representations of the “solar barque” (Fig. 91).

The sword remained the warrior's principal weapon. In Period III the hilt might still consist of alternate bronze and amber disks, with a flat rhombic pommel; in IV the plated tang predominates; while in V antennae, Morigen, and true Hallstatt swords were imported or even copied locally.

The contemporary ornaments all grew out of older native types, showing that no material change affected Teutonic dress. The most important pins were of course the two-piece fibulae in III with large flat spiral coils as catch-plates that were replaced in V by large shield-shaped plates (Fig. 115). In the latter period there was a revival of simple pins, those with spiral, sunflower (like Fig. 106) or saucer-shaped heads being most popular. Another queer pin, to which Early Iron Age deposits at Aegina and elsewhere in Greece offer parallels, has a dumb-bell head formed by joining two disks by a bar at right angles to the shaft. The handsome bronze collars were still worn by ladies during Montelius’ III. In IV and V they were ousted by hooked torques, some genuinely twisted, others with the torsion imitated by cast ridges or engraved lines. In V the direction of the torsion often alternates, one strip being twisted to the right, the next to the left and so on (Fig. 137). Some torques are even hinged. Tutuli assumed gigantic proportions. In Period III the central spike had already grown into a veritable pillar surmounted by a knob; by IV the disk may be 7 inches across and the pillar rise 4½ inches from the rim; while in V the ornament looks like a pedestalled goblet 6 inches or more across, richly decorated on its surface and equipped with ingenious devices for attachment on the inside (Fig. 136).

Late Bronze Age pottery in the Teutonic province is extremely dull. The only attempt at decoration was to smear over the surface with the fingers or a stiff brush. As already remarked, a biconical ossuary was in use from Periods III to V. In the latter period ossuaries in the form of round huts, much as in Latium, were also being made, particularly in Eastern Germany.

The dullness of the pottery is counterbalanced and explained by a wealth of bronze and gold vessels. Many of the bronze cups, buckets and urns were obviously imported from Italy, exhibiting the distinctive forms and decorative devices of the Villanovan bronze industry. But another group of vessels is no less of clearly native manufacture. Among these are the so-called hanging basins of bronze (they may really be grotesquely enlarged tutuli) of Periods IV-V. They have rounded or conical bases, a narrow almost horizontal shoulder and a short vertical neck from which grow two low handles (Fig. 134). The base and neck are richly engraved. No less remarkable is the great group of gold vessels, perhaps mainly ritual, assigned to Period IV. They are ornamented with zones of repouss concentric circles separated by ribbed ridges . In the case of round-bottomed vessels the circles may form a star radiating from the base, or such a star may be left reserved, the space between the points being filled with bosses or circles. The commonest form is a round-bottomed cup without handles. Two remarkable gold vases in the form of a very high-crowned hat, though found respectively in the Rhenish Palatinate and in Central France, seem in style to belong to the Teutonic group.

The gold of these vessels is so thin that many believe them to have been used in ritual only, A number come from bogs where they might have been cast as offerings to some chthonic divinity. And we certainly possess ritual objects of the Late Bronze Age that must have been disposed of in that way, a usage indicated much later in the Norse sagas. The most famous and unambiguous is a bronze horse on wheels[17] connected with a gold-plated[18] disk also on wheels. The disk is 6 inches in diameter. The whole object stands for the solar chariot; after use in some pagan ceremony it had been ritually slain (broken) and cast into the moss of Trundholm in Zealand. The same order of ideas doubtless sanctified some little gold boats found in another Danish bog. The wheeled bowls of Sweden and Mecklenburg, like that from Milavec in Bohemia, may equally rank as ritual vessels. The boat symbol, combined often with swans' heads, recurs again engraved on razor-blades.

Late Bronze Age trumpet from ScotlandThe art of the Late Bronze Age is on the whole inferior to that of the preceding epoch. The spiral survives on collars of Period III and grows into a variety of scroll patterns in V (Figs. 135-136). But the purely geometric principle was being already abandoned, the scrolls blossoming out into stylised animals' heads. To the same period belong undoubtedly some of the rock- carvings and ornamented tombs. Even the Kivik grave is assigned by some authorities to the Late rather than the Middle Bronze Age.

In this connection we may refer to the so-called lurer, musical instruments indirectly related to the trumpets depicted on the Kivik monument. Some thirty of these instruments have been found, generally in Scandinavia and North Germany, all belonging it seems to Periods III-V. They consist of composite bronze tubes with a total length of as much as 5 feet, but wound in a curious S form. The sectional tubes of which they are composed have been cleverly united either by casting on or sweating on or by elaborate interlocking joints. The lurer each had a range of eight notes and are generally found in pairs, each tuned to a different pitch (Fig. 193).


The Late Bronze Age on the Middle Danube is particularly complicated owing to extensive tribal movements. West of the river in Styria, Carinthia and Slovenia, iron came into use very early among Bronze Age groups of indeterminate antecedents, some showing relations with the Hungarian and North Alpine urnfield folks, others with tumulus builders. In the mountains of Bosnia groups of barrows, covering inhumation interments accompanied by bracelets, pins and tutuli characteristic of the (northern) Tumulus culture together with a few fibulae of Adriatic form, constitute the nuclei of the well-known Iron Age cemeteries of Glasinac.

East of the Danube, on the other hand, a belated Bronze Age continued till iron was introduced by bands of Scyths pushing westward across South Russia towards 500BC, and by Kelts advancing in the opposite direction rather later.

The Late Bronze Age throughout the region was ushered in by an invasion of people related to the Lausitz and Knoviz groups who settled especially round the copper-bearing regions of Northern Hungary and Slovakia.[19] Their distinctive pottery, fluted like the later Lausitz vases, enables us to trace them farther south and indeed right across the Balkans into Macedonia; there they put an end to the Late Mycenaean colonies as indicated in Chapter I. Everywhere they introduced the socketed celt, swords with plated hilts, and spearheads with lanceolate blades. In North Hungary the socketed celt almost completely displaced the practical shaft-hole axe that had previously been manufactured in the regions. In Transylvania, however, elaborate derivatives of the old types were still made.

In Northern Hungary the fusion of the invaders with older inhabitants produced a very flourishing culture. It is illustrated by extensive urnfields, remains of regular industrial villages and rich traders’ hoards and “foundries”. Among distinctive local types are slashing swords with rich spiral ornamentation engraved on the bronze hilts, and a variety of elaborate fibulae with big spiral catch-plates. An exceptional number of bronze buckets and cauldrons (Figs. 188-189) and cups of gold or bronze have been discovered in this area, principally on its fringe on the plains of the Upper Tisza. That was evidently a dangerous tract on a great trade route leading from the head of the Adriatic diagonally across Hungary to the Upper Tisza and so to the gold, copper and salt deposits of Transylvania. The metal vessels are all of forms current in Italy and decorated with repouss bosses in Villanovan style; the buckets even show the bird's head and circle motive in its classical North Italian form. Yet the exceptional number of the metal vessels and the use of presumably native gold in the manufacture of many suggest that some at least must be local products. Their distribution elsewhere, too, is not very different from that of the undoubtedly Hungarian swords just described.

Between the ninth and seventh centuries, too, South Russia at last entered the orbit of the European economic and industrial system for a short time. Particularly in the Ukraine[20] a local bronze industry arose, inspired mainly by Hungarian and Central European models. But here the western types subsist side by side with developments of native “Copper Age” forms. Thus socketed celts are found together with peculiar flat celts. Out of this mixture some interesting varieties were evolved. We may mention a socketed celt with two ears, a type which spread across Eastern Russia to the headwaters of the Jenessei in Siberia,[21] and socketed spearheads with big semicircular slits in the blades that must be related to contemporary British types. In the Ukraine they must be pre-Scythian (seventh to fifth centuries or earlier); farther north they belong to the local Iron Age. Yet side by side with these we have tanged spearheads of Asiatic ancestry and others with folded socket as in Crete. To the same period belong the sickles with a hooked tang.


We have already seen that urnfield cultures, more or less, connected with the North Alpine group were spreading in a westerly direction across Central France from Switzerland or the Upper Rhine and down the Rhine into Belgium and Holland. The latter current was further reinforced by one originating in northern Central Germany. Ultimately these movements impinged upon the coasts of Britain and represent the so-called invasion with which our Late Bronze Age may be said to open.[22] Actually this “invasion” was a complex process effected by the infiltration of discrete bands of invaders[23] in this probably resembling the earlier phases of the “Anglo-Saxon Conquest”. No doubt the invaders started from various centres and landed at diverse points along our coasts. Some certainly followed the precedent of the Beaker folk and crossed the North Sea from the Low Countries. Others may have come across France to the Channel ports, and a group that appears in Cornwall and Devon had Armorican affinities. The cumulative result was that “Lowland England” was dominated by the invaders, while in the highland country to the north and west the intrusive culture was absorbed in strict conformity with the principle recently enunciated by Fox.[24] In the south therefore exotic ceramic types were extensively manufactured, while the Late Bronze Age pottery is directly descended from Middle Bronze Age wares. Nevertheless the changes in economic arrangements and burial rites, presumably introduced by the invaders, affected every part of the island, and their new tools and weapons were distributed evenly throughout the land. Conversely, even in Southern England the native tradition in pottery and bronze work was never entirely interrupted.

Hence in general the invasions produced no radical or abrupt change in economy and industry. Probably the communities, in the lowlands especially, were larger, more agricultural and more settled than before. In Southern England a number of roughly rectangular earthworks defended by ditch and bank[25] can safely be assigned to this period and give evidence of more or less permanent settlement. In this area the people lived in pit-dwellings excavated in the chalk. Air photographs, supplemented by excavation, have also demonstrated that some of the old cultivations known as “Keltic fields” likewise date from the Late Bronze Age.[26] Broad rectangular fields, varying in size from 100 square feet to 400 by 150 square feet, were cultivated with the aid of a foot-plough (such as was recently used in the Hebrides) or a primitive plough drawn by two oxen that did not undercut the sods, on the slopes of the open downs and uplands. Between each field narrow strips were left uncultivated.[27] Owing to the slope of the land, soil was washed down from the upper edge of the field and gradually accumulated in a little straight bank against the uncultivated strip at its bottom. The low ridge thus formed is known as a (positive) lynchet, and it is a study of the relation of such lynchets to earthworks of the Late Bronze Age that enables us to date the cultivations. The formation of a lynchet clearly implies a considerable period of cultivation, confirming the impression of sedentary life produced by the settlements. In upland Britain, moreover, a number of very substantial round huts of stone, on Dartmoor and in Anglesey for instance, certainly go back at least to the Late Bronze Age, carrying on an early native architectural tradition. Even villages with elaborate stone defences, like Grimspound on Dartmoor, may be Late Bronze Age.[28] Both these solid huts and the fine stone defences are incompatible with a semi-nomadic life, though not implying necessarily that extreme fixity attained by our peasantry since the Saxon conquest.

More permanent occupation is likewise indicated by the adoption of burial in urnfields in place of, or besides, in small groups of barrows. Urnfields comparable to those of the Lausitz folk or the Italici are in fact distinctive of the Late Bronze Age not only in Southern England but even in the lowlands of Scotland as far north as Aberdeen. Very often, however, an old barrow was used for secondary interments in the Late Bronze Age, a practice also noticed in Holland and Scandinavia.

A change in the economic organisation of Great Britain is denoted by the founders’ hoards that appear for the first time in this period.[29] They imply a new class of travelling smiths, agents or pupils of the great founders of Bologna. Exotic types whose previous history is to be sought in Central Europe, such as winged and socketed celts, leaf-shaped swords with plated hilts, and bugle-shaped objects from harness,[30] are specially common in these hoards and again illustrate foreign traditions as well as actual imports. Trade relations with the lands beyond the Channel and the North Sea had naturally been cemented by the movements of peoples from those quarters. But the old traffic along the sea routes to Spain and the Western Mediter- ranean was revived at the same time, and Britain thus participated in the intensified maritime trade of the Mediterranean basin suggested at the beginning of the chapter, A spearhead of British type (almost identical with Fig. 70) was included in a hoard" redged up from the harbour of Huelva in Southern Spain,[31] and socketed sickles occur even in Sardinia. At the same time, as in the later Stone Age, the maritime trade route was continued round the west coasts of Scotland presumably to Scandinavia. It is marked by a series of late hoards on Islay, Skye, the Hebrides and Orkney,[32] By this route, presumably, Scandinavian types, such as the sunflower pin, reached Ireland and England.

The British bronze industry of this period is represented only by hoards and isolated objects. Except for razors and a few ornaments, no metal objects are found in the graves. For axeheads the later palstaves with no indication of flanges below the stop-ridge remained in use side by side with socketed celts and rare winged celts with high-placed wings and an ear. Numerous woodworkers’ tools testify to the revival of carpentry, of whose products unhappily no remains survive. To this class belong the socketed gouges, tanged chisels and curved knives (Fig. 71). Socketed chisels and socketed hammers probably belong rather to the equipment of the metalworker. Original products of the native industry are the socketed sickles and socketed double-edged knives (Fig. 70). This is also the great age of the bifid razors (Fig. 90). Such are found even in graves and settlements.

The slashing sword now became the warrior's principal weapon. Most have flanged tangs originally plated with horn or wood, straight shoulders and a blunted strip (ricassd) ending in a nick at the base of each edge. A few are of true Hallstatt pattern, widened out for the pommel like Fig. 58. Bronze-hiked swords are rare. Apart from an antennae sword found at Lincoln[33] these bear little resemblance to Central European models, but find rather distant parallels in Sweden. The wooden sheaths that held these swords normally terminated in long narrow chapes (Fig. 60). Some, however, were fitted with true winged chapes of Hallstatt form (Fig, 61). The spear, too, retained its importance. The commonest type has a leaf-shaped head, but blades with lunate openings on either side of the midrib (Fig. 70) are native British products derived from older local models to the north.

Bronze shield, Scotland, Late Bronze Age

The warrior was now defended, as in Central Europe, with a round buckler of bronze. The commonest native type exhibits a hollow central boss or umbo encircled by concentric ridges alternating with rings of small bosses. A flat strip of metal, doubled over at the edges, was riveted across the umbo to form a handle (Fig. 191).

Though no wheeled vehicles have come down to us, such were certainly in use. Indeed one domestic hoard, found in the cave of Heathery Burn (Durham),[34] included six bronze cylinders with an internal diameter of 4 inches which are supposed to be nave collars. The horses which drew the vehicle were controlled by bits terminating in antler cheek-pieces just like Central European specimens. A remarkable gold peytrel (collar or brunt) found at Mold (Flintshire),[35] if really Bronze Age at all — and its decoration is of Bronze Age style — shows how richly steeds might be caparisoned. The so-called bugle-shaped objects tubes with a solid loop on one side and a slit on the other (Fig. 96) are probably pieces of harness.

No safety-pins were included among the toilet articles of a Late Bronze Age Briton. Even pins were still rare, except for the sunflower type (Fig. 106). On the other hand, bronze buttons with a loop at the back now supplement the buttons of jet or amber as dress-fasteners. From Ireland come a number of small penannular objects of gold terminating in great cup-like disks. Some authorities think that they too were dress-fasteners[36]. A thread would have replaced the movable pin of the contemporary Teutonic fibulae to which the Irish ornaments in other respects bear a very striking resemblance (Fig. 139). Other gold objects of similar forms but with a larger hoop might be worn as bracelets (Fig. 117). Sir John Evans[37] pointed out the extraordinary resemblance these bear to the so-called manillas — the ring money still current in West Africa in his day. It may then be that these Irish gold objects were really currency. The use of identically shaped “money” in West Africa would be a survival from prehistoric times commemorating our Bronze Age trade along the Atlantic coasts.

Gold torques also continued in use, as did probably the segmented, quoit-shaped and star-shaped beads of faience, and others of amber and jet. In late Scottish hoards[38] we find beads of blue glass with yellow or white inlays such as would be more at home in the Second Iron Age or La Tene period.

Buckets and cauldrons of hammered bronze are included in several hoards, and, judging by the Heathery Burn cave,[39] were in regular use for domestic purposes by well-to-do families. The buckets are of Italian pattern and may well be imported thence. Their models in any case are not older than Benacci II times. The bottom on some British specimens has been strengthened externally by the attachment of a cruciform framework. The cauldrons, on the other hand, are purely British though late in date and probably inspired in the last resort by Italian models. The majority come from Scotland and Ireland, and some are actually associated with iron weapons. They are globular in shape and consist of several bronze plates riveted together and hammered over a hoop that gave stability to the mouth. The elaborate attachments for the loose ring handles have been cast on (Fig. 190). The great hoard of bronzes from Dowris in County Meath and that from Duddingston Loch, Edinburgh, were probably contained in such cauldrons.

The Dowris hoard contained also trumpets of types found elsewhere in Great Britain and Ireland. All are much shorter than the Teutonic lurer and lack their distinctive twists. The Dowris types were cast in one piece; some have the mouthpiece at the end, others at the side. A third variety, formed of sheetmetal bent over and riveted to form a tube, may date from the Iron Age. In the Irish trumpets, as in the Teutonic lurer, the derivation from an original animal's-horn instrument is patent (Fig. 193).

The best known pottery of the Late Bronze Age is sepulchral and consists of cinerary urns. These naturally fall into two main classes — those derived from old native forms and those inspired by exotic traditions.

The degeneration of the overhanging-rim urn produced, as we saw in chapter IV, the cordoned or hooped type (Fig. 147). In it one ridge of pinched-up clay represents the lower edge of the rim and another below it the old line of the shoulder. This type is commonest north of the Thames, in Wales and in Ireland. Dr Clay[40] believes that in the south of England a similar process led to the formation of what Abercromby calls the Deverel group 2. The urn of this group is cylindrical or bucket-shaped and has a single moulding encircling the body a couple of inches below the lip (Fig. 148). This moulding can be treated as a survival of the original overhanging rim. It is, however, generally decorated with finger-tip impressions, a technique which at once relates it to certain foreign types of urn with which the Deverel group 2 is often associated. A third native type of urn is that termed by Abercromby “Encrusted”. It develops out of the enlarged food vessel in Northern England and Southern Scotland and spreads thence to Wales and Ireland.[41] These urns were decorated by applying round pellets or strips of clay to the surface while the vessel was drying and arranging them to form simple patterns chevrons, squares, concentric arcs or interlaced mouldings. The applied clay was carefully joined up to the body by rubbing with a wet finger, but none the less the strips easily fall off. The strips and even the spaces between them are often incised with a bone point, but never exhibit finger-tip impressions (Fig. 149).

Over against these native types, which except for the bucket urns all belong to highland Britain, stands the foreign pottery of invaders as represented in Southern England including Cornwall. The most striking are the globular urns constituting Abercromby's Deverel group I. The body is globular with four little handles on the line of greatest swell. There is no clearly marked neck, but where it should be comes the decoration, consisting generally of horizontal flutings, simple horizontal incisions, or bands of wavy lines made with a sort of comb (Fig. 152). Abercromby rightly noted the similarity of the fluted decoration to that on the urnfield pottery of Central Europe and France.

Abercromby's Type 3, groups 2 and 3, consist of tall bucket-shaped or cyclindrical urns decorated with horizontal, vertical or zig-zag mouldings. The mouldings are normally embellished with finger-tip impressions and, in group 2, often form loops suggestive of handles (Fig. 150). The rim is generally slightly everted in a manner reminiscent of metal vessels. Plastic finger-tip mouldings had been used decoratively along the northern shores of the Mediterranean and in Central Europe from Neolithic times. From Italy to Holland they are quite common in the urnfield period. This feature therefore helps to attach the group in question to continental cultures without giving us any clue as to the exact home of its makers.

The third intrusive ceramic type is commonest in Cornwall. It is a slightly biconical urn, the upper cone being much shorter than the lower. Two or four strap handles sit on the keel. The upper part and shoulder is decorated with vertical or horizontal zig-zags, sometimes formed by the impression of a cord (Fig. 151). The patterns are thus very similar to those of the Middle Bronze Age overhanging rim urns. But the forms of our group are undoubtedly strongly reminiscent of the Armorican urns of an earlier date described in chapter V.

One peculiar feature is common to all the three classes of intrusive pottery. On the base of the urn there is often a cross or star in relief on the inside. It has been suggested that these relief patterns were really structural and served to strengthen the base. They would actually be useful if the pot was used for boiling water by dropping in hot stones, and several of the decorated pots came from settlements. Another possibility is that the ridges imitate the stays used to strengthen metal buckets, but these were generally affixed to the outside. Dr Clay regards the crosses and stars as religious symbols. Indeed in some Hungarian urnfields a swastika has been observed in relief inside urns.

A word must be said in conclusion as to the duration of the Late Bronze Age in the British Isles. Quite obviously it everywhere overlaps the Central European Hallstatt period very considerably; the Hallstatt types from our hoards suffice to prove that. Moreover, until recently no connected settlements or cemeteries other than those of the Late Bronze Age were known that could be assigned to the First Iron Age. It was only in the Second or La Tene period that new groups could be identified. In the last few years it has been proved that people with a very late Hallstatt culture, including distinctive pottery, did settle on our shores notably at Park Brow[42] near Cissbury in Sussex, at All Cannings Cross[43] near Devizes in Wiltshire and at Scarborough. But though these newcomers did use pottery of Hallstatt character, their safety-pins were already of La Tene type, ie, though they brought a culture of Hallstatt ancestry, they and it only arrived in La Tene times so that their coming need not be anterior to 450BC. Moreover, the intrusive wares at All Cannings and elsewhere are associated with Bronze Age urn types[44] so that even in Southern England the survival of our Bronze Age culture throughout the whole of the Hallstatt period of Central Europe seems indisputable. In more inaccessible regions it lasted longer still. That is implied in the late associations of the Irish and Scottish cauldrons. The glass beads from the hoard of bronzes on Lewis and from a cordoned urn at Edderton, Rossshire, both point to a survival well into the Second Iron Age. And in one urn of Bronze Age fabric from Cornwall Roman coins of the fourth century AD have been recorded! On the whole, then, the Bronze Age in Southern England must have lasted till about 400BC and elsewhere till at least 200BC, probably to the beginning of our era in Scotland.

The beginning of the Late Bronze Age is less easily determined. The intrusive types with which it opens need none of them be later than Reinecke's Hallstatt A. But if they reached here not by trade but as the results of ethnic movement, they might have been already out of date on the Danube before they reached the Thames, just as our Hallstatt pottery would have been already superseded by La Tene wares on the Rhine before it was used at All Cannings. On the contrary, the Sicilian safety-pins associated with the British spearhead at Huelva imply that such Late Bronze Age types were current here before 900BC. So perhaps a date of about 1000 for the first invasions would not be much too high.

1. Articles by TARAMELLI and BOSCH-GIMPERA in Il Convegno Archeologico in Sardegna, Reggio nell’ Emilia, 1929

2. PEET. The Stone and Bronze Ages in Italy and Sicily. Oxford, 1912

3. Hoards. B.P. XLVII

4. Huelva. Real s.v

5. CHILDE. The Dawn of European Civilization. London, 1924

6. Nuraghi. TARAMELLI. In M.A. xix

7. Temple. In M.A. xxv

8. Hoards. In M.A. xxvii

9. WANNER. “Prehistoric Fortifications in Bavaria”. Antiquity, n, 5

10. ISCHER. Die Pfahlbauten des Bielersees. Biel, 1928

11. ABERCROMBY. Bronze Age Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland. Oxford, 1912

12. KRAFT. “Die Stellung der Schweiz innerhalb der bronze-zeitlichen Kulturgruppen Mitteleuropas”. Anzeiger fur schweizerische Altertumskunde, Zurich, 1927-8.

13. DECHELETTE. Manuel d'archeologie prehistorique, celtique et gallo-romaine. Vol. n. Paris, 1910

14. Pouges les-Eaux. Mat. 1879, p. 386

15. CHANTRE. Etudes paleoethnologiques dans le bassin du Rhone, Age du bronze. Lyons, 1875

16. NORDEN. “Neue Ergebnisse der schwedischen Felsbildfor-schung”, IPEK. 1927

17. British Museum. A Guide to the Antiquities of the Bronze Age. 1920

18. Not of course by electrolysis, but by coating with gold foil.

19. CHILDE. The Danube in Prehistory. Oxford, 1929

20. TALLGREN. La Pontide prescythique (Eurasia Septentrionalis Antiqua, II). Helsingfors, 1926

21. MERHARDT, VON. Die Bronzezeit am Jenessei. Vienna, 1926. Great Britain

22. CRAWFORD. “A Bronze Age Invasion.” Ant. J. i

23. KENDRICK. The Druids. London, 1927

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