Finds Through The Ages – The Iron Age in Berkshire (c 800 BC – AD 43).

Iron Age Britain marked an era of iron tools and weapons, and the existence of tribal based societies. The tribes in Southern Britain included:

  • Atrebates
  • Belgae
  • Cantiaci
  • Catuvellauni
  • Dobunni
  • Dumnonii, and sub-tribe Cornovii
  • Durotriges
  • Regnenses
  • Trinovantes
  • Iceni

These tribes produced the coinage of this period which are organized by geographical region.  Two examples are included below with a gold stater and silver unit found in East Berkshire. Traditionally, the end of the Iron Age was considered to be at the time of the arrival of the Romans into Southern Britain in AD 43.

Even though the Iron Age dates back to around 800 BC there doesn’t seem to be any objects recorded from Berkshire at the earlier end of this period. Many of the artefacts are dated to the crossover period between the Late Iron Age to Early Roman.

 

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One of the earliest artefacts from the Iron Age found in Berkshire dates to c. 400 BC – c. 200 BC and takes the form of this incomplete copper alloy La Tene I type brooch. The brooch is missing its pin but consists of a D-shaped bow, two springs around a fragment of the axis bar, and the foot. This was found in Hampstead Norreys, West Berkshire. There are a few other La Tene type brooches also recorded from this period but not many, and none as complete as this example.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

 

This rare find is another form of brooch of an unusual style with very few parallels to other forms of brooches. This is a rare Middle Iron age Adams Type 2Bb2 (2013) found in Welford, West Berkshire. It dates to c. 300 BC – c. 100 BC. The brooch is in the shape of a cross, made up of four circular domed knops arranged around a slightly larger central domed knop. Amazingly the pin is still in place and is mounted onto a simple bar that swivels between two small protruding lugs pierced to take the bar.  A very similar brooch was found in Boxford, West Berkshire but without its pin, with visible corded collars and is of the same type as the above (see BERK-4451E9). There are a few other hollow domed type brooches which fall under this category which appears to be concentrated on the West Berkshire / Vale of the White Horse (Oxfordshire) border over the Ridgeway and may indicate a local source. Hence they have also been named the ‘Vale brooch’. (See BERK-D83302, BERK-9343A6).

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Next we have this incomplete anthropomorphic copper alloy figurine which is a rare and unusual find. It is crudely cast in the form of a possible male figure with raised arms. It was found in East Garston, West Berkshire and dates to the Late Iron Age, c. 200 BC – c. AD 43. The surviving right arm terminates in a loop; presumably the figure held something like a rod through its ‘hand’, although like the rest of the body there is no anatomic detail. The figurine has been noted to share characteristics with examples from the Continent as well as several heads and busts of Iron Age Britain, however, it is not clear what this may have been used for and further research is suggested!

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In Aldermaston, West Berkshire we have this double lunate strap fitting, again a very rare find of note and of regional importance! This dates to the Late Iron Age, c. 100 BC – AD 43. The central body takes the form of two crescent shaped attachments both with a central circular aperture.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

‘Fob Danglers’ are often seen on the PAS database but their exact function is unclear. They may have been hung from items of equipment, personal apparel or harness decoration (Jope 2000, pp 285). When complete most appear to be of Triskele form. Jope (ibid.). This particular example found in Streatley, West Berkshire dates to c. 50 BC – AD 100 and takes the form of a spiral of four arms emanating from a central aperture. Each arm has a seated bird attached to the terminals. The front face is decorated with punched ring and dots. For more information click on the image.

Our next three objects come from East Berkshire:

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This beautifully crafted and decorated harness fitting or cheek-piece found in the Windsor and Maidenhead area dates to c. AD 1 – c. AD 100. It is made of copper alloy and on one side is decorated with an inlaid symmetrical curvilinear design. Traces of red enamel are visible in these inlaid cells. For more information on this type of enamelled harness fitting click on the image.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

And now we move on to possibly one of the oldest gold staters’ recorded from Berkshire! This early uninscribed ‘A’ gold Westerham type, Allen British type A, South Eastern, was found in the Wokingham district and dates to c. 175 BC – c. 50 BC. Obverse description: Head right (profile a), above line e, crossed by leaf l and triplets m, below misc. w. Reverse description: Horse left, exergual line k above 9 pellets, above tail wheel a, below pellet.

 

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This silver unit is unique to Berkshire as it is a unit of the North Thames region / Catuvellauni, possibly of Tasciovanus Berkshire Wreath type! It dates to c.25 BCAD 10. The Obverse depicts a crude laureate head right, [T]AS in front, and the reverse depicts a horse stepping left, VIR above. Found in Cox Green, East Berkshire, it was possibly produce in the area. This is a find of note and has been designated: For inclusion in British Numismatic Journal ‘Coin Register.’

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Speaking of oldest coins on the database, our final example is still possibly one of the earliest single denarius recorded on the PAS database! This silver Roman Republican denarius in excellent condition. It dates to 207 BC, and was minted in Rome. The obverse depicts the Head of Roma, and the reverse depicts the galloping Dioscuri and crescent. RRC 57/2.

There are some Iron Age coin hoards recorded from Berkshire. However, this may be explored at a later date!