(excerpts - pp. 250 - 257 and 260 - 267)


John R. Baker

Pp. 250 - 257:

(...) this remote valley, some 2,500 corpses were buried over a long period of centuries in the distant past.

Excavation of the graves began in 1846. It revealed one of the world's archaeological treasures, perhaps the finest collection of early Iron Age art. The burial-site, or Gräberfeld, consists today of meadow-land near the streams and a wood on the adjacent higher ground. It is about 260 yards long and varies irregularly in width from about 50 to 130 yards. The grave-goods buried with the corpses are representative, in a general way, of a culture that spread over a vast area of Europe. Archaeologists speak of the Hallstatt culture and the Hallstatt period without any thought of restricting the meaning of these terms to a little valley hidden away in the highlands of Austria.

The buried treasure of the Gräberfeld consists of articles of bronze, iron gold, amber, and ivory. An earlier and a later Hallstatt period are recognized, the former (with much bronze but not much iron) extending from about 900 to 700 B.C., and the latter from then onwards till 400 B.C. There are brooches in profusion, neck-bands, bracelets, finger rings, figures of animals, needles, lance-points, daggers, swords, and highly decorated scabbards, as well as pottery. The geometrical decorations, so characteristic of what is commonly called Celtic art, are particularly well seen on the chased girdle-clasps. Many of these articles are today in the excellent little museum in Hallstatt itself, others in the Landesmuseum at Linz; the finest collection is in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

An immense amount of knowledge has accumulated about certain aspects of the material culture of the Hallstatt people, but little is known of the men and women who made the objects that decorate the museums today. Why did a little community live, century after century, in such a remote place? There can be scarcely any doubt that the reason was the existence of a huge supply of common salt in the immediate vicinity. The salt-mine of this valley is said to be the oldest in Europe, and it is still in active production today. It appears that in early times the valley was primarily an industrial settlement. The tools of the miners, marvellously preserved, have been found in the ancient underground galleries. One can still see their wooden shovels and wedges, hafts for bronze pickaxes, tubs for carrying salt, leather shoes, and fragments of garments made of skins and cloth, even the chips of burnt wood that had been used for torches. All these articles are thought to date from the Hallstatt period. The amber from northern Europe, gold from southern Germany, and ivory from Africa must have been obtained by barter for the precious product of the mine.

Many of the corpses in the Gräberfeld were burnt and only the ashes remain; fortunately others were inhumed. It has been supposed that there were two classes of persons in the little community, the cremators and the inhumers. It is claimed by some authorities,[497] though denied by others,[771] that the most splendid grave-goods were buried with the ashes; and the opinion has been expressed that the cremators were the ‘Bergherren’. Whether this was so or not, weapons are more usually found with the cremated remains. It may be supposed that soldiers were necessary to protect the priceless treasure of the mine itself. Many of the soldiers were buried with an Antennendolch, a special variety of dagger provided with two projections from the hilt, resembling the antennae of an insect. We know nothing of the physique of the cremators, but skeletons of the inhumers are exhibited in the Hallstatt Museum. The occiputs projected sufficiently to bring these people into the dolichocranial range; the forehead receded somewhat; the face was long and somewhat prognathous; the men must have been about 170 cm (5’ 7”) tall.[497] The skulls are remarkably similar to the definitely Nordid ones found in the ‘graves in rows’  (Reihengräber) of southern Germany, though they are not quite so flat on top. It must be remembered, nevertheless, that the skulls of Nordids are not very markedly different from those of Mediterranids, and the suggestion has been made that the inhumed people may possibly have been of the latter subrace.[905]

The skulls of the Gräberfeld contrast very strongly with those of the modern population of this part of Austria, and of their ancestors of recent centuries. It a striking experience to pass from the local museum to the charnel-house (Beinhaus) beside the Catholic church of Hallstatt, where, over a period of some three and a half centuries, human skulls and long bones have been stored from lack of space in the churchyard (see p. 212). There are said to be 1,300 skulls in the house,[771] and nearly all appear to be brachycranial or in the broader-headed range of the mesocranial. One cannot tell whether the cremators of the Gräberfeld were brachycranial like the present population of the district or dolichocranial like the skeletons in the graves.

We now come to the crucial question. What name should be given to the people who made and buried the art-treasures of Hallstatt? According to the Swedish archaeologist Montelius, Hallstatt with the neighbouring part of Austria, Switzerland, southern Germany, and Belgium was all occupied throughout the Hallstatt period by ‘la même race celtique’.[758]

Moritz Hoernes, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology in the University of Vienna, who made a special study of the Hallstatt period, [499] did not use the word ‘Celtic’ in quite the same sense. He recognized four great groups of people who practised the Hallstatt culture in somewhat different styles, so that their works of art can be distinguished. These were the illyrische Gruppe, occupying the east Adriatic region from Herzegovina to Carinthia; the ostkeltische in Upper and Lower Austria, southern Bohemia, and Moravia; the germanische of northern Germany from the Elbe to the Oder; and the westkeltische of south and west Germany, eastern France, and northern Switzerland.[499, 500] Thus the Celtic peoples extended over a broad territory from France to Moravia. Hallstatt itself lay near the boundary between the west and east Celtic groups, but its culture approximated more closely to that of the former.

At one time Hoernes had been slightly equivocal as to whether it was legitimate to regard the Celts as an ethnic taxon,[499] but seven years later, in his book,[500] he makes it clear that for him the Celts were those people who occupied a particular geographical area and made objects that could be recognized as essentially similar (though slight differences warranted the recognition of a western and an eastern sub-area). The Celts, in his view, were not people of any particular nation or any particular ethnic taxon.

During the fifth century B.C., particularly from about 450 B.C. onwards, certain objects of another culture, that of La Tène, began to infiltrate into


37   An ornamental bronze disk from a tumulus at Glasinac, Yugoslavia

The disk is 155 mm in diameter. The decoration is characteristic of an early
stage in the development of the art.
From Fiala [328]


Hallstatt;[499, 772] and at the turn of the century, especially about 390 B.C., a profound change occurred. ‘Die keltischen Völker treten auf den Schauplatz.’ So says Friedrich Morton, an authority on the Gräberfeld. The Hallstatt period in the strict sense was at an end in Hallstatt itself; that of La Tène had replaced it in the upland valley. The Celtic people had arrived with their own culture—the Celts, who had been there for centuries, if we accept the opinions of Montelius and Hoernes! So now a new period had started at Hallstatt, that of La Tène. It lasted into the century before Christ.

There were certainly big changes. The pottery began to be made of clay heavily impregnated with graphite, and the Vollgraphitton-Scherben mark clearly the beginning of the La Tène period at Hallstatt.[771] The potter’s wheel came into general use. Jugs were made with spouts drawn out like beaks; some of these were decorated in polychrome. Gold coinage was introduced. Persons of both sexes wore torques with thickened end-pieces round their necks. Iron brooches were inset with coral and enamel. Finger rings were made of coloured glass. Swords became long, double-edged, and adapted to the cutting instead of the thrusting stroke. Some of the scabbards were elaborately decorated with figures of men and horses. There would be no point in extending the list. A new culture had certainly been brought to Hallstatt. But by whom? Morton speaks of ‘Der Einbruch der Kelten’—but were those who brought this culture by definition the Celts? Must one define these people by the products of their art?

It is perhaps appropriate at this point to step aside from the strictly Celtic zone of Hoernes to take a sidelong glance at the people of the neighbouring illyrische Gruppe at Glasinac.

A road from Sarajevo to Višegrad in Bosnia-Herzegovina was under construction in 1880. About forty kilometres east of Sarajevo it passed across a plateau, some 800 metres above the sea and several miles across. This eerie place, called Glasinac, is almost surrounded by mountains, on the slopes of which are innumerable mounds. These are in fact ancient tumuli, made by the piling up of stones. The workmen engaged in building the road found them a convenient source of material for their purpose. Under the stones they began to discover the implements and ornaments of a remote age. It was found that a huge area had been set apart for the burial of the dead. There were 20 or 30 cemeteries, each containing several hundred graves covered by tumuli. The contents of the graves have been thoroughly investigated.[328, 781. 983] It is thought that burials went on here almost continuously from the Bronze Age through the Hallstatt period and beyond. Most of the objects are of Hallstatt types. The bronze disk, ornamented with a simple geometric pattern (Fig. 37), might be taken as an example of early Celtic Iron Age art.

The special interest of the burials at Glasinac is that many of the bodies had not been cremated. Before the end of the nineteenth century, 38 skulls had been obtained, which, though broken by the overlying stones, could be fitted together sufficiently well to provide information about the shape of the cranium. [1132] The lower part of the face was unfortunately in all cases too much damaged to permit study. Of the 38 skulls, 11 were dolicho-, 14 meso-, and 13 brachycranial. Some of the skulls were extremely elongated, one of them showing a cranial index of 63 and another of 64. These figures contrast strongly with those representing the modern Serbo-Croat (Dinarid) population of the region, which is predominantly brachycranial (Fig. 38). It is evident that the Iron Age culture of Glasinac existed in an ethnically mixed population. Both dolichocranial and brachycranial skulls were sometimes found in the same tumulus, and when they were in separate tumuli, they were accompanied by similar grave-goods.[1132] It is impossible, however, to tell whether people of more than one ethnic taxon were engaged in making the goods.


38       A graphical comparison of Iron Age skulls from Glasinac with those of nineteenth-century Serbo-Croat soldiers from the same region.

The heights of the columns represent the proportions of dolicho-, meso-, and brachycranial skulls in each of the two groups of persons. The data for the soldiers are adjusted from measurements taken in life. The scales at the sides show the numbers of skulls or heads on which the heights of the columns are based, in each of the two groups.
                                                                                              The diagram is constructed from the data of Weisbach.




39 The north-eastern end of the Lake of Neuchâtel, to show the position of La Tène

The famous Iron Age site is marked by an oblique arrow. The vertical arrow points to the former River Thick, now converted into a canal. The photograph was taken from Chaumont, in the hills above Neuchâtel.

                                                                                                                                Photograph by the author. 1966.


Whoever the artists and technicians of Glasinac may have been, they eventually adopted the Celtic art-styles of La Tène, though they did not produce any masterpieces in this genre. For these one looks naturally to the fountainhead itself.

From Chaumont, on the high ground above the city of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, one may look down on one of the most celebrated sites of Iron Age culture, and picture to oneself a hive of splendid industry on the lake-shore below (Fig. 39). The distant view is best, for on the site itself one sees little more than a modern bathing-beach, revealing no trace of former glories.

The axis of the long, narrow Lake of Neuchâtel extends from south-west to north-east. The River Thiele flows in at its south-western end and used to flow out at the north-eastern, into the Bielersee; the latter is connected through the River Aare with the Rhine at Koblenz. The short stretch of the Thiele between the two lakes has been replaced by a canal in roughly the same position. All the way along the north-western side of the two lakes and of the river that connected them, there formerly lived Iron Age people of the westkeltische Gruppe of Hoernes. During the Hallstatt period they made objects typical of their group and buried some of them with their inhumed or cremated dead. Some of these objects are good examples of the art of the period. In the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology at Neuchâtel there is, for instance, a fine girdle-plate from near Bussy, some three or four kilometres from Neuchâtel; it is decorated with an elaborate geometrical design. It was in the neighbourhood of this city that a later upsurge of originality in design produced a novel art and technology that eventually replaced those of Hallstatt, even in Hallstatt itself.

Just beside the outflow of the Thiele from the Lake of Neuchâtel, on its left (north-Western) bank, was (and is) La Tène (Fig. 39), famous throughout the civilized world for the development of a culture that everyone seems to agree on calling Celtic. The archaeological exploration of the site was begun in 1856 by Col. Schwab of Bienne; its area was extended some twenty years later by the artificial lowering of the water-level of the lake. It is supposed that the people who produced the industry and art of La Tène migrated from the basin of the Danube to this tributary of the Rhine soon after 500 B.C.; the culture persisted in the same place until well into the first century B.C., though the latest products were inferior in design. Although the majority of the people concerned in the industry may perhaps have come from Danubian territory, yet there is reason to suppose that the features of the La Tène culture that distinguish it from those of Mühlhart and Hallstatt spread hither from the middle region of the Rhine Valley, for the earliest examples are seen in the war-chariot graves of this region. La Tène art is perhaps to be regarded as part of an aristocratic culture derived from this source,[857] but its full development was attained beside this remote lacustrine tributary of the great river.

La Tène appears to have been a workshop and an art-centre, a repository for manufactured goods, and a military frontier-post (for the culture is not represented on the other side of the river). Many of the treasures obtained at this site are in the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology at Neuchâtel, others in museums in various parts of Switzerland, France, and Germany. In the Cantonal Museum one may see axes and adzes, scythes and sickles, large iron cooking-pots hung on chains, an excellent saw resembling a modern bread- knife, gouges and chisels of various sizes, knives, spring-scissors, bits closely resembling modern snaffles, metal parts of harness, a waggon- or chariot-wheel (iron-shod, with wooden spokes and a hollow wooden centre for the axle), lances of various kinds, swords and scabbards (some of the latter with very beautifully worked geometrical and other designs), and articles of personal adornment such as brooches and bracelets. The special skill of the artists was in the use of gold and bronze. The designs used in their decorations were mostly abstract and geometrical rather than naturalistic, though with occasional allusions to natural forms; curved lines usually predominated, and strict symmetry was avoided as a general rule. Their art can be recognized wherever it is found. It is legitimate, from a purely archaeological point of view, to give the name of Celts to those who produced it, and perhaps to those who brought it to the neighbourhood of the Lake of Neuchâtel from elsewhere.

The La Tène culture spread very widely. From a large area of northern Switzerland and part of Germany a massive migration of ‘Celts’ swept westward into France, where they occupied the territory extending from the River Garonne to the Seine.

The taxonomic position of the people in what is now France whom Julius Caesar called ‘Celtae’ has given rise to endless discussion. A large part of the country was occupied in Caesar’s time by people who spoke a language that is called Celtic. The more northerly group of these people, the ‘Germanokelten’ of Höfler,[502] were essentially Nordids, differing little from the Germani in physical characters, but speaking a very different language. Their neighbours to the south, called by Höfler the ‘Gallokelten’, were Alpinids, who Spoke the same language as the Germanokelten, though perhaps a different dialect of it. The territory of the Germanokelten overlapped to some extent that of the Gallokelten, and some hybridization probably occurred. In the regions of overlap, the former were the dominant group. The most northerly of the Germanokelten were a separate people. called by Caesar the ‘Belgae’, whose territory extended to the lower Rhine. They may possibly have mixed and hybridized with Gallokelten, but if so, to a much less extent than their southern neighbours.[505] The language of the Belgae was said by Caesar to have been different from that of the Ceitae, but probably this difference also was only one of dialect.[141, 857]

Much of the misunderstanding arose from Caesar’s casual remark that the people who called themselves ‘Celtae’ were called ‘Galli’ by the Romans (‘Qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur’).[626] This suggests that members of only one ethnic taxon were present in the territory in question, whereas in fact there were two taxa, whose territories overlapped. Caesar and his officers would have been in touch with the dominant Germanokelten.

It has been argued that only the dominant people would have called themselves Celts, and that the Romans made a mistake in ascribing to the Celtae the name (Galli) of those whom they had subjugated.[462] This, however, was strongly denied by certain French anthropologists of the nineteenth century,[626, 243] and especially by the celebrated Paul Broca.[141] These authorities insisted that the true ‘Celtes’ were the short, brown-haired, brachycephalic people (Alpinids, in fact) who occupied a huge area from the Danube across southern Germany and central France to Basse-Bretagne, and some of whose descendants form a considerable part of the modern French population. Contemporary Greek statues show clearly that the Gallokelten of ancient times were Alpinids, and indeed their resemblance to modern Auvergnats has been remarked by several authors.[502]

French anthropologists adopted the name ‘race kymrique’ for the physically very different ‘Germanic’ invaders from the north-east (that is to say, the Germanokelten). This name (spelled ‘race kimrique’) had been used by the French historian Amédée Thierry [1040] for the martial people who inhabited both banks of the lower Rhine and the neighbouring littoral region he included the ‘Belges’ (Caesar’s ‘Belgae’) as part of this ‘race’. Thierry himself did not give ans description of the physique of these people. It is evident that the French anthropologists applied the name ‘race kymrique’ to those Nordids who spoke a Celtic language.

The question next arises, ‘What were the physical characters of the invaders who brought the Iron Age culture to Great Britain, and whom Caesar called Celtae and Belgae?’ This can best be answered by a study of the skeletons that their descendants left in the graveyards of the Romano-British period. The skulls have been subjected to very careful study, with full statistical analysis, by Morant.[762] It is clear that those Celtae and Belgae who established themselves in Britain were essentially Nordid. Indeed, it is shown in the table on p. 82 of Morant’s paper that their skulls scarcely differ from those of the Anglo-Saxons who subsequently dominated them, except in one particular character, namely, that the skull is slightly (but significantly) lower in the Iron Age man than in the Anglo-Saxon. Beyond this there are some minor differences that might be noticed if it were possible to put a typical Iron Age man of Romano-British times beside an Anglo-Saxon.[226] The skull might be meso- rather than dolichocranial, and not only lower, but rounded on top instead of slightly keeled; the cranial capacity would be a little less. The distance between the level of the lower teeth and the chin would probably be less than in the deep-jawed Anglo-Saxon. The build would tend to be slighter, with less massive long-bones moved by less powerful muscles. One thing is certain. The Celts who came to Britain were not the Celts of Broca, Lagneau, and Daily. They were Germanokelten, not Gallokelten; essentially Nordid, not Alpinid. it follows that in all probability they were mainly fair-haired, though some of the Celtae who had Alpinids among their ancestors may have had pale brown hair, and exact uniformity in this respect woula anyhow not be expected.

Diodorus, writing in the last half-century B.C., stated that the natural hair-colour of the Γαλάται was ξανθός.[274] The meaning of ξανθός is yellow, though it was sometimes applied to auburn or chestnut hair.[665] Oldfather[274] translates Γαλάται in this passage as ‘Gauls’, but Diodorus used Κελτοι in the immediately preceding paragraph without any obvious difference of meaning, and it seems almost certain that he was referring to people whom Caesar would have called Celtae or Belgae (though it must be admitted that the Greeks were very loose in their use of the word Γαλάται, as Anderson[20] has pointed out). Hörnes uses the German word ‘blond’ for the hair-colour of the ‘Kelten’, [498] and Höfler refers to the ‘blondgelben Germanokelten’. [502]

A special Celtic ancestry is sometimes postulated for British populations in which red-heads are unusually numerous, on the supposition that an ancient people called 'Celts' had been red-haired. Some casual remarks made by Tacitus (A.D. c. 55—c. 120) seem to have originated this idea. Hoernes, in his work Die Urgeschichte des Menschen,[498] in commenting on the physical resemblance between the ancient Gauls (Gallier) and modern Auvergnats, says that their kindred to the north ‘were already at the time of Tacitus of such lanky, red-haired (rothhaarige) aspect, that the historian ascnbed to them a Germanic origin’. It is important to notice the word used by Tacitus for blond hair. In describing the Germani, he refers to their ‘rutilae comae’. [1033] Gerber and Greef, who made an exact study of the meaning of every word used by Tacitus, translated his ‘rutilus’ as ‘rötlich, goldgelb’.[403] Lewis and Short, in their Latin dictionary, give ‘red (inclining to golden yellow)’ as the meaning, and remark that the word was used to describe the Golden Fleece, and that gold was called the rutilus metal.[663]

The Gallokelten liked to consider themselves closely related to the Germanokelten, and for this reason sometimes dyed or bleached their brown hair in an attempt to make it blond.[502] Gauls taken prisoner by the Romans were required to do this in order to represent Germani at the triumphal procession of Caligula.[498] According to Pliny  (...)

Pp. 260 - 267:


41     Maiden ‘Castle’, to given an impression of the circumvallate fortification as seen from the ramparts

A. taken from the point indicated by the arrow marked A in Fig. 40. The point x is labelled with the same symbol in the latter figure. B, taken from near the point indicated by the arrow marked B in Fig. 40. The point v is labelled with the same symbol in the latter figure. The arrows in Fig. 40 show the directions in which the two photographs of Fig. 41 were taken.                                                          Photographs by the author.


In their decoration of metal objects the pre-Roman people of Iron Ages ‘B’ and ‘C’ brought their culture to a very high level. Indeed, La Tène art is conidered to have reached its climax in Britain (Figs. 42 and 43, p. 263). The enamelling of metal was invented and perfected by people regarded by the classical writers of antiquity as barbarians; and nowhere did the La Tène artists show greater skill than in the works of art produced in Great Britain,


42   A small shield of gilt bronze, one of the finest examples of British Iron Age art

The shield was probably made between 25 B.C. and A.D. 50. It was found in the River Thames at Battersea. The 27 small circles were all enamelled in red, and each was decorated with an anti-clockwise fylfot in brass (bright in the photograph). The gilding has not survived.
British Museum.


chiefly, for the princes and nobility. The style of decoration had become freer, though still moderated by the classical tradition derived ultimately from the Mediterranean peoples. There resulted what has been described as ‘one of the most masterly arts which Europe has known’.[481] Toynbee says that its ‘glory’ was ‘the flowing, curvilinear, abstract, and often amazingly intricate designs adorning the splendid de luxe products of the metal-worker’s craft.... No other group of late La Tène objects manifests more resplendently the creative genius of the British artist.’[1064] Navarro says of this art that ‘at its best it unsurpassed, and in independence and imaginative power unexcelled by finest La Tène masterpieces which the continent has to show.’[788] J. and C. Hawkes[481] go so far as to say of the La Tène settlers in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire that they ‘were responsible for the growth of a British School of decorative art which is one of the outstanding episodes in the story of our civilization’. The actual objects must be seen to be appreciated to the full. A fine example is reproduced in colour as the frontispiece to the old British Museum guide;[983] a photograph of the same object is shown here as Fig. 42. Good photographs of other specimens of the art are readily available in several books (see, for example, Plates XIII and XIV in Prehistoric Britain by J. and C. Hawkes[481]).

Such, then, was the state of affairs over a considerable part of Britain, in particular the south-east, when Julius Caesar landed.

An account of the history of these times has been provided by one of the authors who lay special stress on the influence of environment on human progress, and who minimize or deny the importance of ethnic differences. He tells us[36] of the primitiveness of the inhabitants of Britain when Julius Caesar landed in A.D. 52 and ‘opened up... the opportunities for cultural development’. If he had not done so, we are told, their development would have been greatly delayed. The Britons had been isolated from the main ‘cultural fertilizing agents’ until Caesar arrived, but all was now well and ‘development followed with great rapidity’. Within a hundred years of his landing ‘these self-same savage Britons were well on the way toward the development of a civilization’. It is necessary to revise the impression conveyed by this account.

It will be remembered that Julius Caesar made his landings in Britain in 55 and 54 B.C., not in A.D. 52 (by which time he had been dead for 95 or 96 years). On the first occasion he landed with about 10,000 men somewhere between the sites where Walmer and Deal Castles now stand, on the coast of Kent. The Belgae put up an effective opposition. Caesar’s men were unnerved—as he himself tells us—by the novel tactics of the defenders, who sent their cavalry and chariots in advance. Caesar was obviously much impressed by the charioteers. He remarks that they exhibited the mobility of cavalry combined with the steadiness of infantry. His first invasion was really a reconnaissance in force and he soon withdrew.[504]

On the second expedition, in 54 B.C., Caesar evidently intended to establish Roman authority in Britain. His army consisted of five legions and 2,000 cavalry, probably about 25,000 men in all. Eight hundred vessels set them ashore a few miles north of where he had previously landed. As he moved inland he found himself opposed by the formidable Belgic chief, Caswallon (Caesar’s ‘Cassivellaunus’), and noted his adversary’s tactics with respect. He tells us that the Britons did not fight in massed formation, but in groups separated by wide intervals; reserves were arranged, who relieved the combatants when necessary. The British soldiers stained themselves with a dye, presumably to incite fear in close fighting, rather as modern soldiers sometimes use horrific cries. Caesar’s own words on the subject, in what is supposed to be the most accurate text, are as follows:[501] ‘Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleam efficit colorem, atque hoc horridiores sunt in pugna aspectu.’ (‘All the Britons actually dye themselves with woad, which produces a blue colour, and from so appearing they are more terrifying in battle.’) It is supposed by some authorities that the use of woad was general among the Britons,[1012] but in fact it seems probable that in this passage Caesar was referring only to the soldiers.


43   A bronze mirror with handle, an example of British Iron Age art at its fully developed stage

The, photograph shows the back of the mirror, decorated with a typical curvilinear geometrical design. The mirror, which was found in a quarry at Desborough, Northamptonshire, was probably
made about A.D. 15—20.
British Museum.


Caesar tells us that the people of Kent were the most civilized of the Britons. He nowhere states that any of the Britons were savage (immanis), nor does he eak specifically of their ignorance (ignorantia), though he does twice mention their indiscretion (imprudentia) in parleying.[501] He was under the impression that it was the custom among the Britons for a group of ten or twelve men to “share a number of women as wives. It is not impossible that some of the hybrid communities (not Celtic or Belgic) in remote districts may have had a custom that gave rise to Caesar’s statement. It has been supposed by some authorities that he may have been confused by the occurrence of matriarchy. The Belgae, who were the dominant group in the country invaded by Caesar and the people with whom he came into direct contact, did not practise group-marriage or polyandry.[506]

Caesar indicates that most of the people of the interior did not cultivate grain, but this means no more than that they were primarily pastoralists, and as a result naturally used skins for clothing.

On this expedition Caesar was able to penetrate beyond the lower Thames, but once again his stay was short. Some of the tribes opposed to Caswallon made submission, but the latter adopted guerilla tactics, and the invaders were insecure. Caesar was disturbed by serious news from France. He decided to relinquish his attempt at establishing himself in the island, and before the end of the summer his army had retreated to the ships and left its shores. Caesar never returned. His invasions had no effect on the culture of Britain. There had been Mediterranean influences on Iron Age culture centuries before Caesar was born, and they continued in Britain, on a limited scale, after he had gone; indeed, they were encouraged by the later Belgic kings;[1064] but Caesar himself achieved nothing in Britain for Rome apart from the imposition of a tribute that soon lapsed, and nothing at all for the inhabitants. Rome was without direct influence in the island until the Emperor Claudius came as conqueror in A.D. 43.

One effect of the submission to Rome was a severe setback to British art. Hawkes sums it up pithily: ‘With the Roman conquest (from A.D. 43) the art became altered and diminished.... never quite extinguished even in Roman Britain. it was revived in new forms in post-Roman times.’ The art of Roman Britain is described and lavishly illustrated in Toynbee’s book;[1064] a convenient source for the post-Roman period is Chadwick’s.[196]

The Iron Age invaders of Great Britain transmitted the dialects of their Celtic language to the more ancient Britons whom they found in possession of the land. They pushed back these less advanced peoples towards the west and north as they themselves spread across the country. To this day there is evidence of ethnic peculiarities in those who occupy the districts to which the dispossessed people were confined by the advance of the invaders. One of the most obvious distinctive features of these people is the colour of the hair. The geographical distribution of hair colour in the British. Isles was studied in some detail towards the end of the nineteenth century by John Beddoe, who had devised a useful (if somewhat arbitrary) ‘index of nigrescence’.[69] The index expresses in rather a roundabout way the proportion of dark-haired to light haired people of the country, in his time. He prepared a detailed map, illustrating the distribution of hair-colour. It shows clearly that the tendency towards the possession of dark hair was much more marked in Wales than in England, and still more marked in the western districts of Ireland.

The general accuracy of Beddoe’s map is confirmed by an investigation carried out some seventy years later,[1029] by methods involving the use of a recording spectrophotometer to establish the colours of a thousand specimens of hair, and substitution of modern statistical techniques for Beddoe’s somewhat arbitrary method for translating his visual impressions into numbers. The latter’s map of 1885 and Sunderland’s of 1956 agree remarkably well. and both show clearly the high incidence of dark hair in Wales. The only sharp difference between the two maps reflects the ever-shifting population of London. Beddoe was mistaken in supposing that the peoples of Great Britain would become ‘inextricably confused’ in a single generation.

It is worth remarking that there is rather a high proportion of people with red hair in Wales, and that no fully satisfactory explanation of this fact has been provided.

Hair colour is only one indication among many that a Mediterranid element has persisted in Great Britain since Neolithic times. That this persistence has been particularly obvious in Wales was emphasized more than half a century ago by Fleure and James in a very long and detailed paper on the physical characters of the people of that country.[344] One need not suppose that any Weishman is descended from Mediterranid ancestors exclusively. It is evident, however, that genes of that subrace are more frequent in Wales than in most parts of Great Britain, and random (or more or less random) assortment of those genes will more often bring them together in a single individual, to produce a close approximation to a Mediterranid, in Wales than elsewhere. Plate I (Figs. 2A and B) in Fleure and James’s paper provides a striking example of a Welsh Mediterranid head.

Recent work on blood-groups confirms the evidence about special elements in the ancestry of the Welsh people. In studies of this kind it is best to count the number of people belonging to each group in a random sample of the population and to calculate the gene-frequencies from the figures obtained (see pp. 186—7). For some purposes it is convenient to divide the frequency (r) of the gene making for the blood-group ‘O’ by that (p) of the gene for the group ‘A’. For instance, in a particular population one might find these frequencies: p, 0.270; q, 0.082; r, 0.648. The quotient just mentioned, r/p, would then be 2.4. If the gene for ‘O’ is high and that for ‘A’ low, a high figure would necessarily result.

In most parts of England the quotient is about 2.4, but in north-western Wales the gene for ‘O’ shows a high frequency,[773] while that for ‘A’ is low.[774] The quotient thus rises to between 3 and 3-5. In the extreme southwest of Ireland it rises even higher, to more than 5-5. These figures give an indication of the extent to which a Neolithic population has transmitted its genes to the present-day population of these parts of the British Isles. The facts are well exhibited in a map of these islands showing the geographical distribution of the quotient. As the Swedish anthropologist Lundman remarks, ‘...it is obvious from this map that the old population-groups (those with high quotients) have been forced away into remote marginal zones’.[680] There is a remarkable (though not exact) correspondence between Lundman’s and Beddoe’s maps.

The gene for ‘A’ has a low frequency in many Mediterranean lands, especially North Africa, Corsica, Sardinia, the southern half of Italy, and Sicily. In some of these countries, especially Corsica and Sardinia, the gene for ‘O’ shows a very high frequency.[774, 72] The quotient in these parts of the world is therefore similar to that in north-western Wales. The results obtained in modern studies thus support the opinion that has long been entertained on other grounds, that the Neolithic population of Great Britain was of the Mediterranid subrace, and that people still living in north-western Wales and certain other parts of the British Isles have inherited a particularly high proportion of their genes from this ancestral stock.

At or near the beginning of the Bronze Age a very distinct new type appeared. These ‘Beaker Folk’ were taller, markedly brachycranial, and broadfaced, with rather wide noses. It seems impossible to place them with confidence in any of the existing subraces, though they were certainly Europids, and they have been regarded by some authorities as Dinarids.[512] The evidence from the round barrows of the Bronze Age suggests that they intermarried to some extent with their Neolithic forerunners, to produce at last a hybrid type having a skull strangely similar to that of the Iron Age invaders (Celtae and Belgae), though differing from it in the greater height of the cranium and wider face.[516]

It is often supposed that the Celtae and Belgae almost exterminated and replaced the population over a considerable part of Great Britain.[762, 510] It seems more probable, however, that Mediterranids and Mediterranid/Beaker Folk hybrids survived to form part of the modern British population, though the unhybridized descendants of the Celtae and Belgae continued to predominate greatly in certain places, especially the south-eastern part of England.[516]

At one time it was widely believed that the Iron Age people of Great Britain (the descendants of the Celtae and Belgae, intermixed and hybridized with Mediterranids and Mediterranid/Beaker Folk hybrids) were in their turn driven out to remote districts or slaughtered by the Anglo-Saxon invaders; but opinion has changed. It is considered that too much stress was laid by the historians of the past on the partial dying out of the Celtic place-names and language. Modern historians allow that while some withdrew to more remote districts and some were indeed killed by the Anglo-Saxons, others merged with the latter.[496] Physical anthropologists, relying on evidence provided by the skulls of ancient and modern times, consider that the descendants of Iron Age people of Romano-British times continued to occupy the country during the period of Anglo-Saxon domination, and were so far from being driven away or exterminated that it might almost be said that it was they who eventually absorbed the Anglo-Saxons, while adopting the language of their conquerors. On this view the present-day population of England and much of Scotland is to a very considerable extent derived from the Celtae and Belgae of the Iron Age.[640, 762, 510, 175, 516]

That the Anglo-Saxons were not simply exterminators of the people they found in this country is indicated by the strange evidence of a graveyard at East Shefford in Berkshire, which dates from the latter half of the fifth century A.D. This contained the skeletons of elderly Anglo-Saxon males, elderly females of a distinctly different ethnic taxon, and youthful intermediates. It seems almost certain that the elderly people were the parents of the intermediates. The skulls of the elderly females suggest that they were of the ancient Mediterranid/Beaker Folk stock.[829]

It has been claimed that the British people are ‘one of the most mongrel of all the strains of the human race’.[1147] It is appropriate to examine this statement here.

Apart from some of the recent immigrants, who do not appear to have hybridized to any important extent with the native population of the country, the ancestors of the British people of the present day are Europids who have come in successive waves. Some of the minor incursions have been of little importance, for they cannot have left enough descendants to have had any significant effect on the genetic make-up of the British population as a whole. This applies, for instance, to the brachycranial people who arrived in advance of the main Bronze Age invaders. The Jewish immigrants of recent centuries, again, have not had very much genetic effect on the rest of the population, partly because they have not been very numerous, partly because they have tended to practise endogamy.

It has been stated that the English were ‘a truly multiracial society’ because there were Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Normans, Belgics, and ‘flamboyant Celts’ among their ancestors.[1179] The reader should note that all these peoples were not only of one race (Europid) but of one subrace (Nordid). Incidentally it is doubtful whether the Angles and Saxons were different peoples in any sense.[101]

It follows from what has been said that the English are far from being ‘one of the most mongrel strains of the human race’. The facts can perhaps be best represented by use of a rough analogy. Let us suppose that a dog-breeder has been specializing in harriers (hounds for hare-hunting, an ancient breed). Let us suppose further that it occurs to him to mate some of his harriers with bloodhounds. He keeps his stock of harriers and makes a new hybrid breed of bloodhound-harriers. He gives some of each stock to a master of foxhounds. The master incorporates them in the breeding stock of his pack, and later introduces some otterhounds as well. Interbreeding for several generations eventually produces a varied but roughly homogeneous pack, all the ancestors of which were hounds of the long-eared group that hunts by scent.

No one, on seeing the pack, would say that these hounds were one of the most mongrel of all the strains of dogs. The man-in-the-street would simply say that they looked rather like foxhounds, while a huntsman would remark on the differences from typical members of the breed. The inexpert and the expert would agree, rightly, in describing a cross between a bull-dog and a greyhound, or between a Pekinese and a beagle, as a genuine specimen of one of the most mongrel of all the strains. Comparable examples could be quoted from mankind, but since the word ‘mongrel’ is disparaging when applied to man, it is far better to avoid it.

In the analogy just related, the Neolithic (Mediterranid) people are represented by the harriers; the Beaker Folk by the bloodhounds; the Iron Age invaders (Celtae and Belgae) by the foxhounds; and the Anglo-Saxons and Other northerners by the otterhounds. Only the Beaker Folk were markedly different from the rest (though of the same race), just as the bloodhounds were among the dogs (though of the same group of breeds).

The people of a large part of Wales would be represented, in an analogy of (...)