Rethinking Celtic Art
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The decorated metalwork from the later Iron Age and Roman periods has long been acknowledged as an important body of material, but has been mainly analysed in terms of its styles and continental links. It has often been known as 'Celtic art' and both of these terms are ripe for reconstruction. The term 'Celtic' has been much discussed, with the notion of 'art' relatively ignored. This volume focuses on this latter term. Given the interests current in archaeology in the material nature of objects and their social effects, there are now many new possibilities for analysis both of the metalwork itself and its place within Iron Age and Romano-British cultural forms. The twelve papers in this volume bring together a variety of insights into production, art syles, dating and social significances by specialists in those fields. The authors argue that British early Celtic art is distinctively different from that found in other parts of Europe (though not a sign of isolated development), that we should move away from a notion of art towards a notion of aesthetics and how objects relate to people's senses and relations with each other, and that decorated metalwork, in spite of its rarity, can shed light on the social world of the time, and the strangeness of British society at the very end of prehistory.
from the social context of the societies in which it exists. To move the debate forward we need to reintegrate art and archaeology with people. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Duncan, Chris and J. D. for inviting me to the conference, which I found very enjoyable, and for encouraging me to make these comments, even though they do not necessarily agree with them. J. D. Hill gave particularly helpful advice on the nature of Late Iron Age ceramics and Ian Dennis and Morwena Perrott created
Mortimer 1905: frontispiece) For example, the Kirkburn sword is decorated on its hilt with cut-back panels infilled with red ‘enamel’ (more correctly known as hot glass work), in a range of bar, roundel, triangle and crescent designs (Figure 4.3, Stead 1991, 66–70 and 2006, 184–5). The scabbard is inscribed with scrolls of tendrils/petals, set against hatched or stippled backgrounds, enriched with zig-zags and wavy lines (ibid.). The grip of the sword from Wetwang Slack cart burial 1 and the
coinage and highlight new patterns emerging in the data that allow the numismatic evidence to be integrated with the ‘non-tribal’ models of society that are becoming common in other areas of Iron Age studies (e.g. Hill 2006). Distributions and chronological variation The most familiar coin distribution maps are the simple gross-plot distributions of each ‘regional’ or ‘tribal’ series (e.g. Cunliffe 2005, 160–198). These represent amalgamations of all types that have been identified as belonging
equipment, and later on similarly ‘curvilinear’ styled artefacts such as tankard handles, mounts, bowls, and even figurines. Yellow glass seems to be acceptable in these contexts to some degree as with the Hambledon, Buckinghamshire strap-union (Haseloff 1991 642), the recent find of a massive strap union from Maendy hillfort in south Wales, and the massive armlets from north-east Scotland). In south east England, the correlations shown between type of metal, colour of decoration and style of
pre-Flavian (Webster 1971, 108), or early Flavian at latest (Bishop 1988, 178, note 87). A similar example of Type 1e has been discovered in a pre-Flavian context at Usk (Webster 1995a, 38–9, Cat. 2). The ‘trifid’ pendant is of Type 1n, and may date from the Claudian period onwards (Appendix 9.1, 04.134; Bishop 1988, 96 and for parallels see Davies and Spratling 1976, 125; Bishop 1988, 146, Table 6; Chapman 2005, 150, Cat. Wb01; Unz and Deschler Erb 1997, 40, Cat. Nos. 1393–6). The female