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Stone and Metal: The Celtic Irish Iron Age

History, Culture, Warfare

Mr. Delohery

on 12 October 2015

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Transcript of Stone and Metal: The Celtic Irish Iron Age

The Iron Age
Period after Bronze Age, dates and context vary depending on geographical location.
3rd period of the three-age system (Stone/Bronze/Iron)
Characterized by widespread use of iron or steel.
Changes in societies such as agricultural practices, religious beliefs, artistic styles, weaponry.
Iron working was introduced to Europe in the late 11th century BC, and slowly spread northwards and westwards over 500 years.
Knowledge of iron traveled from the South northward, thus Iron Age arrived earlier in Southern countries.
Elaboration in designs of weapons, utensils, implements. (Arms in some respects resembled Roman ones, but in others represent Northern art.)
What is the Iron Age?
Bronze Age vs. Iron age
Specifying: European Iron Age
Bronze Age
Iron Age
2nd of the 3 ages
Blacksmiths cast creations.
Décor chiefly of repetition of rectilinear patterns.
Cremation for the dead.
Last of the 3 ages
Blacksmiths developed implements/weapons by hammering into shape.
Décor system of curvilinear and flowing designs.
Dead buried in extended position.

Hallstatt and La Tene
Current academic theory is that the Celts arrived in Ireland over the course of several centuries, beginning in the late Bronze Age with Celts of the early iron-using Hallstatt group of people( named after a town in Austria where a number of items were found) then followed after 300BC by Celts of the La Tène cultural group which formed within the Hallstatt group.
Life in Celtic Irish Iron Age
Culture based on warfare.
Held in high esteem: blacksmiths (weapons), druids (prophesies/soothsaying), and poets (exploits of warriors to verse.)
Aristocracy made up of warriors, who sought fame and recognition by doing battle with their enemies. Initiated by mounting chariot, before proceeding to battle and cutting off the heads of his enemies to bring home as trophies. Celebratory banquet afterwards, the warriors compete for the "hero's portion" of the food being served.
Weapons used by these warriors consisted of round wooden, bronze or iron shields, with iron spears or swords. The spear was more common compared to the sword.
More on Politics, Life, & Warfare
Political: Ireland was divided into many kingdoms, during the later Celtic period, ruled by series of 100-200 kings, each ruling a small kingdom or tuath. Kings came in three grades, depending on how powerful they were. Ireland had between 4-10 provinces at any one time.

Life: For most of the civilian population, life was spent in small farming units of a wooden or wattle-and-daub house within a circular enclosure. Most would have had access to common land on higher ground on which to graze animals. Dairying was common, but almost everyone grew grain crops such as corn, oats, barley, wheat and rye. The land was ploughed using wooden ploughs pulled by oxen. Almost all farming was subsistence-based.

Only interruption to the daily ritual of grazing animals and growing crops would have been cattle-raids from neighbouring warriors, who may have pillaged and burned on their way to battle, although in general warfare was a highly formalised affair in which peasants were usually not involved. By 400AD there were probably between half a million-1 million people living in Ireland.
The Celtic Torc
The Roman consul Titus Manlius in the 361s BC challenged a Gaul to single combat and killed him, and then took his torc. Because he always wore it, he received the nickname Torquatus (the one who wears a torc). After this, Romans adopted the torc as a decoration for distinguished soldiers and elite units during Republican times.
(Celtic) Irish Iron Age
<- Some Weaponry artifacts
2000 yr old torc (will be explained in more depth later) ->
Bronze and/vs. Iron!
1. Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper. On the other hand, iron is a naturally occurring metal.
2. Bronze is denser than iron.
3. While iron has a melting point of 1600 degrees Celsius, bronze has a melting point of 1000 degrees Celsius.
4. Bronze is easier to cast, but it is harder to forge.
5. Iron rusts, while bronze does not.
6. Unlike bronze, iron has magnetic properties.
7. Bronze is also less brittle than iron. This makes it hard to work with bronze metals.
8. Bronze is stronger than simple iron, but it is weaker than carburized (after its been heated in the forge) iron.
A rí túaithe
was the ruler of a single kingdom.
A 'great king', or
, was a king who had gained the allegiance of/become overlord of, a number of local kings.
A 'king of overkings',
rí ruirech
, king of a province.
It is believed that Celts arrived in Britain and Ireland around 500 BC. (Celtic is a culture not an empire.)
Iron was introduced to the Celtic people in Europe around 1000-700 BC .
It was stronger than Bronze and gave a technological edge
Iron was a superior metal to bronze; stronger and more durable. However, it requires much hotter fires to extract from its ore and so it took a fair degree of skill to use iron. Bronze did not fall out of use. Rather, iron simply became an alternative metal and many bronze objects have been found that were made in the Iron Age.
Arrival of the Celts in Ireland: Was it an actual invasion or gradual assimilation, it is debatable??????
Must have arrived in large enough numbers to obliterate the existing culture in Ireland within a few hundred years.
On the other hand, better documented invasions of Ireland - such as the Viking invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries AD - failed to have the effect of changing the culture on an islandwide scale.
Torcs in General
Celtic Torcs~
The torc was a sign of nobility and high social status, awarded to warriors for their deeds in battle, as well as a divine attribute, since some depictions of Celtic gods wear one or more torcs. Images of the god Cernunnos wearing one torc around his neck, with torcs hanging from his antlers or held in his hand, have been found.
Depictions of the gods and goddesses of Celtic mythology frequently show them wearing torcs.
A torc (also torq/torque) is a piece of jewelry made from twisted metal. It can be worn as an arm ring, a neck ring, or a necklace that is open-ended at the front.
Type of Scythian, Thracian and Celtic jewelry, produced in the European Iron Age, from around the 8th century BC-3rd century AD.
The name comes from the Latin torques, from torqueo, to twist, because of the twisted shape of the collar. The ends of torcs typically bore sculpted ornaments, frequently globes, cubes, or animal heads, and, less commonly, human figures. The body of the necklace was sometimes wrapped. Although most often neck-rings, there were also bracelets with this shape. Torcs were made from intertwined metal strands, usually gold or bronze and, less often, silver.
Some believe it was an ornament for women until the 4th century BC, when it became an attribute of warriors. Examples of torcs owned by women include the gold torc from the La Tene period chariot burial of a princess, found in Waldalgesheim, Germany, and another found in a woman's grave at Reinheim. Yet another La Tene example was found as part of a hoard buried near Erstfeld. The famous heavy silver "bull torc" found in Trichtingen, Germany, dates to the 2nd century BC.
If interested: most of the video is useless fluff though...
Basic Celtic Clothing
* There were 2 types of cloaks: a light-weight piece of cloth that was worn draped over the shoulders and fastened with brooches, and a second cloak that was heavyweight , and had a hood. The second was worn in winter (protect against cold) and in rain (to stay dry.) There were two layers- The outer layer was a coarse wool, possibly oiled (
), and an inner layer that was a lighter-weight cloth, dyed a bright colour.

Shoulder bags - Leather bags for carrying.
Jewellery - Gold, silver, bronze.
Combs - Bone, antler, wood.
Mirrors - Bronze
Make up - Worn by the ladies.
Knives - Personal knives for eating with.
Amulets - To ward off the wrath of the gods, and ghosts.
Tunic - A long shirt worn on the upper body.
Braecci - Trousers of sorts, wrong on legs
Belt(s) - One to hold the trousers up, and one around the tunic.
Pouch - Holds personal items. Hangs on the belt
Shoes - Worn on the feet for protection.
Cloak* - Worn over the shoulders as a coat
Tunic - A long shirt worn on the upper body
Dress - One piece full length outer garment. (Can have sleeves)
Peplum - Tubular dress without sleeves.
Skirt - Worn round the waist to cover the legs.
Belt - Worn around the waist.
Pouch - Holds personal items. Hangs on the belt
Shoes - Worn on the feet for protection.
Cloak* - Worn over the shoulders as a coat
Lok Yiu Yue

When it was...
The name of the type of people
The metals used and where they came from...
How the items were made (techniques etc)
The names of the key items of the period
the function of the items

What you need to know
food for

The Iron Age in Ireland spans approximately one thousand years from the end of the Bronze Age to the start of the Early Christian Era ( 500BC to 500 AD). Knowledge of using Iron gradually spread throughout Ireland. Iron became the main metal used to make tools and equipment because it is very strong – much stronger than bronze.
This knowledge of Iron metalwork came from Europe, where the Romans were conquering much territory as far east as the Holy Land and Persia and as far west as Britain. The Romans never invaded Ireland, although there is much evidence that they regularly traded with the Irish – especially on the east coast. However, at some point during the Iron Age the Celts invaded territory in Ireland. The Celts brought to Ireland a new culture which the native Irish adopted and made their own – celtic language, customs and Art.

La Tene (part 2 -ish)
The new style of Art which the Celts brought to Ireland is called La Tene. This is an abstract curvilinear style of decoration. It is called La Tene – after a site in Switzerland where the earliest curvilinear style artifacts were found.

This La Tene style is found over much of Europe and in Ireland, it lasted for several hundred years until the arrival of Christianity when the Irish La Tene style merged with christian designs and symbols.

The Triskel was a very popular La Tene motif. It is a triple spiral design – a type of “sun wheel”.
The Turoe Stone: Co. Galway
Domed granite Boulder. Im in height
A rubbing of the stone shows the
Incised decoration in low relief
Iron Disc in La Tene Style

The Petrie Crown is a fine example of Celtic Iron Age metalworking which displays the curvilinear repeated patterning typical of the La Tene style.
It is made of Bronze pieces which are riveted together. The base is a bronze band which was bent into a circular shape that fits onto the head.
Circular discs are attached onto the outer circumference of this bronze band.
Two large outer discs are mounted on top decorated with La Tene spiral designs, the centre of some of these spirals ends in a bird head design. The discs are not flat, but are concave in shape. The designs are lined or carved in – ie the background of each line is carved away and smoothed so the lines appear raised. These discs have an enamel bead in the centre.
The conical horn was cut from sheet bronze, was formed by rolling into a cylinder and beating into a cone. Originally there was a second horn that was broken and lost.

The Petrie Crown
The Loughnashade Trumpet
The Broighter Hoard
The Broighter Hoard is probably the greatest find of ancient artifacts in Ireland. It was uncovered in Co Derry in 1896, when land near the shores of Lough Foyle were being ploughed. The “ hoard’ consists of a model boat with oars and mast, a bowl, two chain necklaces, two rod twisted torcs and a hollow collar. All these objects were made in gold, which had become much a more rare and precious metal in Ireland than in the Bronze Age.
The Broighter Boat and Broighter Collar are famous irish prehistoric artworks. The boat is very unusual for Iron Age Art in that it is not abstract- it is a beautiful representation of a prehistoric boat complete with mast and oars. The collar is one of the finest examples of la Tene metal craftmanship in Europe.

The Broighter Colar
This hollow collar is made from two plates of thin gold soldered together in tubular form and bent into a circular shape to fit around a neck. The La Tene style decoration was made using the repousse technique ( punched from behind). This repousse design would have been hammered into the gold sheets before they were made into a tube. The design consists of trumpet patterns ( a type of triskel)and lentoid bosses ( a boss is a lump or knob, and lentiod means its oval or lens shaped and not circular). These are all linked together with flowing curved lines that make the design resemble a climbing plant complete with stems, leaves and flowers. There are two terminals at either end of the collar that have an intricate locking device that firmly clasps the colllar together. Unfortunately, the plough that uncovered the collar more than a century ago broke the collar in two.
Remember the Iron age is just the name for the period (based on the developments with iron) people still used copper, gold, bronze etc.
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