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Across the Northe Sea: A Review

  • J. V. S. Megaw

Exactly three centuries ago last year, Johan Picardt, parson of Coevorder in Drenthe and Adviser for Land-Reclamation, wrote in a regional study worthy of comparison with his contemporary John Aubrey’s Monumenta Britannica: ‘Our fore-fathers had not pen, ink, nor paper, which had they possessed would have enabled us to learn of strange things. Howsomever, they have bequeathed us signs enough if only it were that we could read them.’ Each one of the three volumes from the second of which my quotation comes clearly shows the ways in which archaeological research in the Low Countries has vindicated Picardt’s statement. Today archaeology in the Netherlands is a matter of exemplary close-knit co-operation between State institutions, universities, local societies, and the private individual, while recently Belgium has taken important steps in the systemization of pre- and protohistoric studies.

Although the Low Countries can hardly be regarded as a primary area of development, their coastal position at the north-western limit of the transcontinental routes has made them a cultural entrepôt of particular significance for the British archaeologist. In this context Professor De Laet’s book in the ‘Ancient Peoples and Places’ series is all the more welcome in that it is the first English summary of the pre-Roman archaeology of the region.

De Voorgeschiedenis der Lage Landen is a much expanded and corrected version of De Laet’s volume, with Professor Glasbergen’s collaboration giving a more balanced account of the Dutch evidence. The third book, a double volume of Antiquity and Survival, offers a lavishly illustrated symposium of one hundred centuries of the Netherlands, and although the promised English language edition is not to be, the Trustees of the Prince Bernhard Foundation and the Rijksdienst voor het Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek are to be warmly thanked for giving their support to Honderd Eeuwen Nederland.

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1 ANTIQUITY (1959), 291-2. For Picardt: K. H. Jacob-Friesen in Niedersachsens Urg., 23 (1954). 3-19.

2 To the best of my knowledge none of the Groningen dates here quoted has been corrected for the ‘Seuss effect’; q.v. H. T. Waterbolk in ANTIQUITY (1960), 14.

3 Waterbolk, op. cit., 15.

4 PPS, XXV (1959), 110-6.

5 Information from Professor Waterbolk; the pollen dating of this specimen fits this context. Two other undated wheels of this type are in the Provinciaal Museum van Drenthe, Assen.

6 T. G. E. Powell has commented briefly on the significance of the free standing menhir; ANTIQUITY (1960). 190.

7 N. K. Sandars, Bronze Age Cultures in France (1957), 38 summarizes Mariën’s separate SOM and Beaker colonies south and north of the Demmer/Dyle line with their common flint trade which Sieveking’s recent work indicates covered a short period in the 17th century B.C.

8 Palaeohistoria, IV (1955), 5-46.

9 M. E. Crichton Mitchell in PSAS, LXVIII (1933-4), 153-8.

10 All-over corded and pot beakers: H. J. Case in PPS, XXV (1959), 43-4; barbed-wire decoration: I. M. Smith in 11th Ann. Report Inst. Arch. (1955), 34-41, and for a protruding foot beaker burial and the use of such decoration on a ‘Hilversum’ urn: P. J. R. Modderman in BROB, 9 (1959), 286-9.

11 Munro Lecture, University of Edinburgh, 4 March, 1958 (unpublished); contrast P. Ashbee, The Bronze Age Round Barrow in Britain (i960), 60-5.

12 Most recent publication with full references in Inventaria Archaeologica: Great Britain 5th set (1958), G.B. 26.

13 10th Ann. Report Inst. Arch. (1954), 40.

14 P. J. R. Modderman and J. J. Butler in BROB, 9 (1959), 290-2; a second crude type I axe of doubtful provenance is in the Museum Kam, Nijmegen.

15 J. J. Butler and I. M. Smith in 12th Ann. Report Inst. Arch. (1956), 22-33.

16 M. A. Smith in PPS, XXV (1959), 165-8.

17 Hondera Eeuwen, 120 has the captions reversed to figs. 28 (Brachterbeek : also comparable with Tyning’s Farm) and 29 (Budel : compare barrow B. 47, Bulford). Pot 2 from Gorftad, Co. Londonderry, has a very ‘Hilversum’ look; A. McL. May and A. E. P. Collins in UJA, 22 (1959), 33-9 and fig. 2. The important recently excavated settlement at Vogelenzang, near Haarlem, shows a coastal variety closest to Mildenhall; J. G. D. Clark in Ant. J., XVI (1936), 29-50.

18 Voorgeschiedenis der Lage Lauden, fig. 58 has the Hilversum and Drakenstein symbols reversed.

19 Piggott’s review of the ‘Eight Beatitudes’ paper, Ant. J., XXXV (1955), 235-7, was the first realization in print of the significance of this to our own Deverel-Rimbury ancestry.

20 H. J. Case in PPS, XVIII (1952), 148-59.

21 Here one may point out that M. A. Smith emphasizes the Drakenstein nature of the Ramsgate urn; op. cit., 161.

22 The Bargeroosterveld hoards are fully described by J. J. Butler in Provinciaal Museum van Drenthe: Museumbulletin 1959 (1960), 31-57.

23 M. A. Smith, op. cit., 163.

24 Archaeologia, XIV (1803), 94-5 and pl. XXVII, fig. 1.

25 Ant. J., XXXVII (1957), 185.

26 A carp’s tongue sword from Hamme (E.F1.) should be added to Cowen’s list in PPS, XVIII (1932), 145-6.

27 Ibid., 144.

28 = secondary burials in a barrow, one vessel containing a Northern swan’s neck terminal razor.

29 Dr Glazema’s article in Hondera Eeuwen on churches and burial customs of the medieval period has some interesting comments to offer; q.v. 240—3.

30 A useful summary of Mariën’s republication of the Court-St.-Etienne material is offered by J. M. Coles in ANTIQUITY (1960), 314-6. Add to the ‘stimulus’ from tumulus 3 a second socketed goad allegedly from the Rhine at Nijmegen now in Leiden.

31 q.v. E. M. Jope in Problems of the Iron Age …: Inst. Arch. Occ. Paper No. 11 (1961), 73.

32 Feddersen Wierde offers the most recently published example; q.v. W. Haarnagel in Neue Ausgrabungen in Deutschtand (1958), 215-28.

33 For the Black Sea parallels which support an East European origin for Gundestrup contra O. Klindt-Jensen in Aarbager (1952), 209-11, see P. Goessler in IPEK (1929), 45-50 and Taf. 4.

34 Professor Glasbergen has kindly sent me photographs of the vessel (now in Leiden); I hope to write further on this piece.

35 The best publication of these splendid objects now in New York is contained in the Snettisham report; R. Rainbird Clarke in PPS, XX (1954), 42-94 and pls. V-VII.

36 M. A. Cotton in ANL, 6:8 (1958), 194.

37 PPS, XXI (1955), 250-2.

Prompted by last year's Netherlands conference of the Prehistoric Society, Mr Megaw notes some of the significant points for the wider horizons of British and European prehistory contained in three recent publications on the archaeology of the Low Countries.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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