Scale

BRONZE ENAMEI.LID 11 \RNESS MOUNT]FROM I'OI.DI N HII.L, SOMERSETSHIRE ; HQ* IN 11IF. BRITISH MUSEUM

Celtic Scales

authority can be quoted, always mainta:ned the Celtic origin of the art of enamelb'ng in Western Europe, and gave the distinctive name of opus liritannicum to the special kind of enamel which was produced in greater perfection by the Celts inhabiting the British Isles than by any other people. The art of enamelling in the purely Celtic style commenced before the arrival of the Romans in this country, and after continuing throughout the whole period of their occupation, survived for some centuries after their departure from our snores. There are, however, numerous enamels which, though very possibly of Celtic workmanship, are altogether Roman as far as the ornamental patterns upon them are concerned. Dr. Joseph Anderson has described an exquisitely enamelled patera of this kind found 'n L.nlithgowshire, and now in the Museum of Antiquities of Edinburgh. lie says of it:—1

"Apart from the singular beauty of its decoration it is possessed of this special interest, that it is the only vessel of its kind and character known to exist in Scotland. It is, however, one of a class of objects, which, though few in number, are pretty widely distributed over the area, which may be termed the outskirts of the Roman Empire, towards the north and west—that is Britain, North Germany, and Scandinavia. We look in vain for anything like it within the area of the Roman Empire proper, and it may therefore be regarded as a product of a culture of some portion of the area of north-western Europe, where it was touched and modified by the Rrnnaa culture."

Other similar examples of enamelled vessels have been found at Braughing,2 near Standon, Herts ; the

1 " Notice of an enamelled cup or patera of hronze found in Linlithgowshire, recently purchased for the Museum," in the Proc. Ar.t. Scot., vol. xix., p. 45.

2 PrQc, Soc. Ant, J/)nd., 2nd ser., vol. iv., p. 514.

Bartlow Hills,1 Essex; Maltbeck,2 Denmark; and Pyrmont,3 in the Rhine valley. In addition to these we have two other enamelled vessels, but differing in their style of ornament, one from Rudge,4 Wilts, now in the Duke of Northumberland's private museum at Alnwick Castle, and the other from Prirkwillow/ Cam-b dgeshire, now in the British Museum.

Of the art of enamelling as carried on elsewhere than in Britain Dr. Anderson says :—6

''The Gauls as well as the Britons—of the same Celtic stock—practised enamel-working before the Roman conquest. The enamel workshops of Bibracte, with their furnaces, crucibles, moulds, polishing-stones, and with the crude enamels i.i their various stages of preparation, have been recently excavated from the ruins of the city destroyed by Ca;sar and his legions. But the Bibracte enamels are the work of mere dabblers in the art compared with the British examples. The home of the art was Britain, and the style of the patterns as well as the associations in which the objects decorated with it were found, demonstrate with certainty that it had reached its highest stage of indigenous development before it came in contact with the Roman culture."

A full account of the discoveries made at Bibracte will be found in J. G. Bulliot's Fouillcs de Mont Beuvray. Several beautiful enamels have been derived from the Belgo-Koman cemetery at Presles.

Romano-British enamels, without distinctively Celtic

5 Mem, de la Sec. Royale des Antiquaires d,i Kord, 18(16-71, p. 151.

3 Jahrhuiher des Veretns von AUerthttmsfreunden in Rheinlande, heft 38, p. 47.

1 Catal. of Mus. of R Archceol. Inst, at Edinburgh, 1856.

5 Archteolegia, vol. xxviii , p. 436.

patterns upon them, have been dug up at many places in Great Britain, but more especially at PrickwiUo*1.

We shall see in a subsequent chapter how the divergent spiral patterns on the circular discs of enamel used to decorate the bronze bowls of the end of the Late-Celtic period were transferred bodily to the pages of the early Irish illuminated MSS. of the Gospels.

Another method of ornamenting metalwork besides enamell'ng was by means of settings of different materials fixed in place by small pins or -ivets. As instances we have the bronze shield from the River Witham,1 now in the British Museum, set with red coral; the bronze fibula from Datchet, Oxon,2 set with amber and blue glass; and most curious of all, a bronze object of unknown use from Carlton,3 Northamptonshire, now in the Northampton Museum, nlaid with portions of the stem of a fossil encrinite.

A very effective kind of decorative metalwork may be made out of wire, bent so as to form a series of loops, of which we have British examples in the bracelets from the Early Iron Age burial in Deepdale,4 Derbyshire ; and a foreign specimen in a fibula from the cemetery of the La Tene period at Jezerine,5 in Bosnia-IIerzegovina.

More or less akin to the looped wirework just men-turned are certain gold and silver chains made of fine wire. Dr. Arthur Evans has gone pretty fully into this subject in his paper in the Artfueologia (vol. lv., p. 394), describing tiie find of gold ornaments at Broighter, near Limavady, Co. Londonderry, amongst

1 J Kemble's Hovcz Fe-ales, p 14, and pi. 15. s Pro«, Snc. Ant. Lnnd., ser. 2, vol. xv., p. 191. 8 Ibid., ser. 2, vol. xvii., p i£>5. i The Reliquary for 1897, p. 101. c II. Munro's Boznia-Ileraegvvlna, p 170.

which were two chains of the kind referred to. The art of making these chains was no doubt of foreign origin, as they have been found in Etruscan tombs of the fifth century n.c. in Italy; with burials of the La Time period in the cemetery of Jezerine, in Bosnia; and in a tomb in the Gaulish cemetery of Ornovasso, in the province of Turin. In Britain such chains were used during the period of the Roman occupation for the attachment of fibulae worn in pairs, as in the case of those from Chorley,1 Lancashire, and from New-castle-on-Tvne,2 Northumberland. We shall see in a subsequent chapter that the manufacture of these finely wrought chains of silver survived ir early Christian times in Ireland, the best-known examples being those attached to the Tara brooch,3 and to an enamelled pin from Clonmacnois.4 With regard to the date of the chains, I)r. Arthur Evans says:—5

" It thus appears that these fine chains were in use among the Celtic peoples during the first two centuries before and after our era.6 In Britain, however, the finest class is, as far as I am aware, confined to the latter half of this period ; the chains attached to the earlier British fibula;, like the one in the British Museum from the Warren,7 near Folkestone, which may date from the second century B.C., being, like those referred to from the Champagne8 cemeteries, of simpler and coarser construction."

1 The Reliquary for 1901, p. iqS.

s M. Stokes' Early Christian Art in Ireland, p 75.

4 Jour. R. Sor. Ant. of Ireland, ser. 5, vol. i., p. 318.

6 I)r. A. Evans appears to have forgotten the Christian survivals in Ireland.

8 The coarser chains are made of ordinary circular or oval links, sometimes double (see illustrations given in the Dictionnaire Archdotogique it la Oaule ol those from the Marnian cemeteries).

Ornamental ironwork of the Late-Celtic period is extremely rare, either because the smiths were too busily employed in making weapons for the warrior and tools for the artisan to devote their time to decorative work, or because the specimens of their handiwork have disappeared in consequence of the perishable nature of the material of which they were made. Fortunately, however, the fire-dogs from Capel Garmon,1 now at Colonel Wynne Finch's house at Voelas, are still in existence to show us what fine ornamental ironwork the Welsh smiths of the Romano-lîr'tish period were capable of producing.

Turning now from the metalwork to the pottery of the Late-Celtic period, we find it to consist of unglazed vessels made on a wheel, fired in a kiln, and ornamented either by mouldings or by patterns engraved on the surface with a pointed nstrument. The technical processes employed in its manufacture do not seem to have differed essentially from those of the Romano-B rit Mi potters, except that slip-ware was unknown. As far as I am aware, no painted pottery like that from Mont Beuvray2 (Bibracte), nor vessels incrusted with pebbles and polished with graphite like the one from Plouhinec3 (Finistère) now in M. Paul du Chatellier's collection at the Chateau de Kernuz, near Quimper, have yet been discovered in this country.

As far as the existing evidence goes no ornamental glasswork was made during the Late-Celtic period in Britain except certain beads and armlets already described. The technical process of manufacturing these beads consisted m twisting together fine rods of different

2 See J. O. Bulliot's Fouilles de Mor t Beuvray.

8 See Revue Archéowgique for 1883, p il.

coloured glass, and then bending the composite rod into loops round a mandril so as to form the bead.

The art of the ornamental worker in wood in the Late-Celtic, period is displayed at its best in the tankards, buckets, and tubs of which, fortunately, a

Li\te-Celtic Pottery from the Glastonbury Lake Village mxsi TX7J &»x*

Li\te-Celtic Pottery from the Glastonbury Lake Village few interesting specimens have been preserved. The tankard from Trawsfynvdd,1 Merionethshire, now in the Liverpool Museum, shows great ingenuity of construction, the sta.ves of wh'ch it is composed being kept together at the bottom by a corrugated wire let

1 Archccol'gia Cambrensis, ser. 5, vol. xiii., p. 212.

into the ends of the staves. Another tankard, belonging to Mr. T. Layton,1 F.s.A., has the staves fastened together with wooden dowels and pins.

We have already described how the engraved patterns were produced on the ornamental woodwork fro 10 the Glastonbury Marsh Village by a finely pointed instrument, and afterwards burnt in.

Ornamental objects were also made out of bone and Kimmeridge shale during the Late-Celtic period, but there is nothing special to call for any comment in the technical methods employed, except to mention that the patterns on the bone objects were often engraved by means of a pair of compasses, and that the vessels of Kimmeridge shale were turned on a lathe.

Of the basketry in which the Celts excelled in the time of Caesar2 no specimens are now extant, but no doubt their natural talent for decorative art showed itself in this native industry of Britain, as in all others.

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