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Apollo Antiquities Gallery UK

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iron age

The Iron Age, or Celtic period started in Britain after the Bronze Age around 800 BC. Although the use of Iron was known to exist in the Middle East as long ago as 4,000 BC, the knowledge and use of it did not spread to the Celts in Britain until around 800 BC.

 

The ancient Hittites came from an area we now know as modern day Turkey, and kept Iron a closely guarded secret. However, because of their connection through wars and with the ancient Greeks, word soon got out and spread from Greece, to Italy, and on to other parts of mainland Europe and the Celtic tribal peoples, before eventually coming to Britain around 800 BC.

 

The Celts were very stylistic in their artistic design, much of which would not look out of place in today's modern world. Indeed much of today's art and design seems still to be influenced by our Celtic ancestors. Iron was used for a wide range of items at this time including tools, agricultural equipment, and of course weapons of war such as knives, daggers, and swords. The Celts at this time were still a fiercely tribal people protecting their land for the farming of crops and the rearing of animals for food which had to a large extent replaced the necessity for hunting wild beasts for food.

 

Although by this time iron was widely being used by the Celts, bronze and gold were still being used to adorn weapons, ornaments and jewellery. The lower casts in the tribe may not have worn jewellery, but higher up the social scale such as tribal leaders, nobles, and later Druid priests would have adorned themselves with quality objects. By this time red and yellow enamels were being added to bronze brooches and iron weapons. Items which were not enamelled often relied on the fantastic stylistic approach which was simplistic but to this day remains very impressive. Small items were often buried as votive offerings to the Celtic pagan gods which still dominated religion in Britain at this time. Of course there were no written records, however the ancient artefacts that remain with us today prove that the Celts were an advanced, creative, and thinking culture.

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