- Museum number
Opaque blue glass bead fragment, with two opaque white glass 'eyes' marvered flush to the surface.
- Production date
- 50 BC - 25 BC (circa)
Length: 19.80 millimetres (approx)
Weight: 2.50 grammes
- Curator's comments
Found with gaming-pieces (1967,0202.42-65), suggesting the fragment was contained within the same bag. It appears the fragment was not deliberately broken for inclusion in the grave; the broken edges are worn, and their position in the grave suggests they were an integral part of the game. For full report see Stead 1967, p17-19.
This find originates from the Late Iron Age La Tène III Burial at Welwyn Garden City, excavated by Ian, M, Stead in 1965. The grave was discovered when a trench for a gas-pipe disturbed it, damaging the contents. The grave floor lay approx. 1.2m below present ground level and measured approx. 2.5m long by 1.7m wide, whilst the top of the grave measured approx. 3.2m long by 2.2m wide immediately below the top soil.
The burial was that of an important man whose body had been wrapped in a bear skin and cremated. The burnt bones were placed in a heap on the floor of the grave. The large burial vault was filled with numerous pots and metal vessels, and other offerings including a unique set of gaming pieces, which may have been used for a game similar to ludo. The burial also contained wooden bowls and buckets, a straw mat and other organic materials which have long since perished. Most of the grave-goods are native, but the wine amphorae and silver cup are italian, while the platters and large flagon were made in Gaul. Wine amphorae are only found in burials north of the Thames.The grave dates from late in the first century BC, midway between the expeditions of Julius Caesar (55 and 54 BC) and the invasion of the Emperor Claudius (AD43).
The burial is one of six examples named after the type site Welwyn, Herts, including Hertford Heath, Mount Bures, Snailwell, Stanfordbury and Welwyn. The burial may be characterized by its cremation with no covering mound and its wide range of grave goods including materials such as ceramics, glass, iron, bronze and silver.
For more information on the site and finds see:
Stead, I. M. 1967: A La Tène III Burial at Welwyn Garden City. Archaeologia. 101, 1-62.
Cunliffe, B. 2005: Iron Age Communities in Britain. 4th ed: Routledge, Oxon.
For similar sites and parallels see:
Lethbridge, T. C. 1953: Burial of an Iron Age warrior at Snailwell. Proc. Cambridge Antiq. Soc. 47, 25-37.
Holmes, J. and Frund, W. H. C. 1959: A Belgic chieftain’s grave on Hertford Heath. E. Hertfordshire Archaeol. Soc. Trans. 14(1), 1-19.
Smith, C. R. 1852: Collectanea Antiqua Vol. 2 (London)
Dryden, H. 1845: Roman and Romano-Bristish remains at and near Shefford, Co. Beds. Pubs. Cambridge Antiq. Soc. 1 (1840-6), no. 8, 184.
Smith, R. A. 1912: On Late-Celtic antiquities discovered at Welwyn, Herts. Archaeologia 63 (1911-12), 1-30.
- On display (G50/dc28)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Excavation/small finds number: PS.FU (find/site code, Stead 1967)