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Late Celtic Europe is discernible along three lines: from sources in texts, in coins, and in general archaeology. Where all converge, on any portion of its story, visibility ought to be good. Such a portion is the tale of the folk whose name was (in the Romans' spelling) Belgae. Julius Caesar, within the Gaul that he conquered in 58-51 BC, met Belgae first in the basin of the Marne, and then throughout between the Seine, the sea and the Rhine [I]. Their distinctness from neighbour Celts, which he opened his Memoirs on the Gallic War by stressing , was afterwards declared in Strabo’s Geography to have been quite slight in language . Yet they themselves could account for it by old tradition, which Caesar learnt, on approaching the Marne, from envoys sent him by their tribe the Remi. ‘Germani,’ beyond the Rhine, had been ancestors of most of them, and these had crossed it and acquired their present good lands with eviction of Gallic occupants. In the north-east part of the country, towards the lower Rhine and in the Meuse/Maas basin, tribes could still use ‘Germani’ as their common name ; one supposes them therefore ‘more Germanic’ than the rest. None the less, the envoys reckoned them Belgae in the broader sense . In that same sense, after Caesar’s war was won, the Roman government called all the province ‘Belgica’. But there is something more to add. The Gallic War employs another land-name, ‘Belgium’. What did this mean?
I’m pleased with the news of the discovery of a runic record of a Norwegian expedition to Oklahoma in the 11th century. Why it should have gone round the Carolina coast and Florida and up to Oklahoma, not the most attractive of American states, I cannot imagine. But the Vikings were an odd people. The deciphering of the runes seems to have been extremely ingenious; and the fact that the runes are in code is also extremely interesting. Why the bishop put his record into cryptograms is even harder to understand than why Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, concealed his authorship of the plays attributed to Lord Oxford by Mr Looney. (I am no expert in Shakespearian cryptography, relying on the lucid description of it in Dr P. G. Wodehouse’s work, The Mulliner Omnibus, pp. 234 ff.)
Durrington Walls lies one quarter of a mile to the north of the outskirts of Amesbury in Wiltshire and 9 miles north of Salisbury (SU 150437). Stonehenge is situated 2 miles to the south-east and 80 yds. to the south of the enclosure is Woodhenge which was excavated by Mrs Cunnington in 1926-8. The much ploughed bank, which encloses a dry valley opening on to the River Avon, was initially recorded by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in the early 19th century (1812, 169), but until the recently completed series of excavations the only digging on the site was that carried out by Professor Stuart Piggott in 1952, despite recognition of the enclosure as being one of the largest henge monuments in the country. The 1952 excavations were in the nature of an exploration on both sides of a pipe trench where it intersected with the bank in its southern sector (Stone, Piggott and Booth, 1954). A double row of post-holes was recorded along the outer edge of the bank and a quantity of animal bones, flints and sherds of Grooved Ware was found on top of the old land surface which was preserved beneath it. Sherds of Grooved Ware and two small fragments of Beaker were recorded from domestic refuse overlying the bank talus. Radiocarbon dates of 2620± 40 and 2630 ± 70 BC were obtained from charcoal under the bank in its southern sector (Piggott, 1959, 289). These determinations were described by Professor Piggott as ‘archaeologically unacceptable’ as two small scraps of Beaker pottery were found in association with the abundant Grooved Ware.
Dr Watson's review of Dr von Dewall's Pferd und Wagen im Frühen China in your June issue raised a very interesting question, a hitherto unexplored aspect of which is indicated, if never developed, in the book.
Dr Watson writes that the author ‘Rather surprisingly, sees no problem in the perennial
question of the plac—hest or neck—on which the yoked horses took the load, and assumes
that the system of traces kept the point of draught low and protected the horses from the
choking effects of a band around the neck.’ Dr von Dewall referred to a girth (Bauchgurt) rather than to traces (which did not then exist) as performing this function, but was
over-optimistic in believing it could be successful. But she does assign a role, although a not
entirely correct one, to the yoke saddle: ‘Die Jochgabel auf dem Nacken der Pferde, an der
ein Brustblatt angesetzt haben muss, das von Brust und Schulter die Zugkraft abnahm, war
damit ein wichtiges Verbindungsglied in diesem Zugsystem’ . The saddle is an element of the
harness long neglected in the literature and, although it could never completely have removed the pressure from the throat (‘breast’ is a euphemism), I hope to demonstrate that it
would permit the withers and particularly the
upper shoulder to absorb some of this-at least
when the horse was in certain positions.
In the June number of ANTIQUITY Mr Sinclair Hood introduced to the readers of this journal the sensational find of the so-called Neolithic inscribed tablets from Transylvania. When this find was announced for the first time [I], it made a great impression upon everybody who appreciated its significance. It was a kind of deus ex machina which seemed to solve once and for all one of the crucial issues of Central European archaeology: the absolute chronology of the Neolithic Period.
The first aim of this new excavation was to complete the study of the largest of the mounds. It was not known what the original shape of the mound was, whether oval or circular, what its height had been before excavation, whether it was surrounded by a ditch, or what structural or ritual features it might possess. It was also an aim to obtain more information about the site in general by cutting away the grass and bracken and making a fresh and sensitive survey of the surface features. In the process the number of barrows recognizable rose from 11 to 16. It was also an aim to sound the flat ground between and near the barrows to see whether ordinary burials, whether cremation or inhumation, could be located, and to establish the nature of the Neolithic-Bronze Age occupation plentifully attested on the site by stray finds.