La Tène, on Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, gives its name to a phase of the European Iron Age (around 450 BC to the Roman mid-first century BC). It seems to have been the site of a water cult where objects were deposited as votive offerings. Engineering works and subsequent archaeological excavations during 1880-85 and 1907-14 produced more than 3000 swords and scabbards, spearheads, brooches, tools, coins and wooden objects. The name 'La Tène' is used because this site produced artefacts considered typical of its period: there is no suggestion that the culture it represents originated at that site. The term also covers the peoples of Britain at this time.
In the second half of the nineteenth century many thousands of La Tène graves were excavated in Champagne, France and one of the largest collections, amassed by Leon Morel of Rheims, was acquired by The British Museum in 1901.