The Chariot: Reconstructions

What evidence do we have for chariots in the British Iron Age? Beyond the sixteen or so chariot burials that have been discovered, and a few pieces of chariots recovered on other excavations, there are two other sources of information.

A few images of chariots survive on coins of the first century BC. These show light two-wheeled vehicles with m-shaped sides being drawn by two horses. Although these are not detailed plans of vehicles, they do convey a good idea of what they must have looked like.

One other source offers useful descriptions: the classical authors who visited Britain or heard about chariots from other visitors. Julius Caesar in De Bello Gallico ('The Gallic Wars') mentions the Britons using chariots against his forces. They were apparently skilfully driven and used in 'hit-and-run' attacks on Roman troops in the mid-first century BC.

Illustrated: a silver denarius of about 48 BC (CM BMC Roman Republic Rome 3994)