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Finds from a Late Iron Age cremation burial

  • Detail showing human face on bucket handle

    Detail showing human face on bucket handle

 

Height: 30.000 cm (bucket)

P&EE 1886 11-12 1-3

Room 50: Britain and Europe

    Finds from a Late Iron Age cremation burial

    Iron Age, 75-25 BC
    Found at Aylesford Cemetery, outside Maidstone, Kent, England (1886)

    A grave of a wealthy contemporary of Julius Caesar

    This 'bucket', jug and pan were placed in the grave of a Briton who was alive at the same time as the Roman leader Julius Caesar (100-44 BC). She or he may even have seen Caesar when he led his troops to invade the south of England in 55 and 54 BC. We can not be sure whether the person was a woman or a man, as they were cremated and the cremated bones then placed in the grave. If the person had been a man, he might have looked like one of the men visible on the handles of the bucket.

    The grave, found in 1886 by the archaeologist Arthur Evans, was one of the first Late Iron Age cremation graves to be studied by archaeologists. This way of treating the dead was the same as in northern France; Arthur Evans thought that this was confirmation of Julius Caesar's comment that a people called the Belgae came from France to live in Kent at this time. Today, archaeologists recognize that religious ideas can spread between groups of people, and that a new way of treating the dead, such as this grave, does not mean that people from northern France emigrated to live in Kent 2100 years ago.

    The bucket is made of wood and decorated with bronze sheets and handles. The jug and pan were made somewhere in the Roman world, but not locally in Kent. The grave also contained three pots and two bronze brooches.

    B.W. Cunliffe, Iron Age Britain (English Heritage / Batsford, 1995)

    S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

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