Chair: Nancy Edwards
The Auvergne area of central France played a key role in the history of the Ancient Celts, and is one of the best documented areas with major characters such as Luernios, Bituitos, Vercingetorix, Avitus and Sidonius Apollinaris from the second century BC to the fifth century AD. Since the 1970s the archaeology of this area has been revolutionised by both research and rescue excavations: the changing nature of the Celtic society, the art, religious practices, the character of the settlement patterns, and the location of sites mentioned in the texts. I wish to draw attention to the results of these excavations and place them in both their historical and environmental context: Aulnat/Clermont-Ferrand, Corent, Gondole, Gergovia, Chamalières, Pessat and Avitacum/Aydat.
The excavations of Bangor’s School of History and Archaeology at Meillionydd on the Llŷn peninsula shed a light on the emergence of the kinds of societies which would dominate Wales for (at least) the next two millennia. Sometime around the 6C BC, societies in Wales are fundamentally transformed: the first llysoedd appear, in the shape of enclosed homesteads like Meillionydd.
These residences of an emerging social elite are characterised by strong enclosures, creating a separate, private space for the privileged few. This space is internally structured, indicating social differences between the lord and his immediate family, his wider teulu, and his menial servants. Its construction is a communal effort, with manpower provided by taeogion farming the land owned by the lord. As structured depositions of material culture, and particularly structured burial practices – weapon burials in the ditches surrounding the enclosure, burials with spindlewhorls and other domestic items in its interior – demonstrate, the llys also serves as both a physically and spiritually (and, related to this, legally) protected space. It not only serves as both a stage for court proceedings and other courtly activities, but also as a place where food-rents are received and consumed in sumptuous communal feasts.
The transformative process that changes Welsh societies so fundamentally is both utterly locally determined and surprisingly rapid: starting roughly in the 7C-6C BC, several sites on Llŷn seem to be transformed into such llysoedd contemporarily with each other within just about two centuries, culminating in elaborately designed double ringworks with impressive gates and drystone-faced banks by c.500 BC. In this paper, we examine how this new social order emerged and became embedded in Wales, even though it only becomes apparent in extant manuscripts in the Middle Ages.
Wetland studies dating to the Iron Age have been limited in scope until the contemporary. Studies of these landscapes are usually focused on a singular variant (i.e., singular wetland type, settlement, object type, or mortuary traditions). Objects and sometimes even settlements are usually regarded as votive (e.g.,. Green 2001, Fitzpatrick 1984, Van de Noort 2000, Grant 1989), but this theory has yet to be re-examined in a holistic manner in seventy to eighty years. This project aims to re-analyse all recorded objects found within wetland contexts, dating the Iron Age from Wales and Scotland. The project will achieve its aim through defining wetland landscapes for the two regions; collect records from museums, archaeological units, and online databases; and apply comparisons based on various patterns found within the data. Through this holistic approach, the project serves to challenge preconceived theories of deposition. By delineating mundane performances from the significant, in terms of continual to singular object placement, the project will provide definitive evidence for depositional practices during the Iron Age and compare this to the preceding Bronze Age and proceeding Roman Period traditions. The objective of the project is to create a comprehensive dataset that could be the baseline for wetland artefacts dating to the Iron Age in Wales and Scotland, and thereby define or clarify cultural practices of the two regions.