The Image Of The Horseman

In the La Tene Iron Age, depictions of horsemen appear on coins, jewellery, pottery, sculpture and metalwork. Mounted warriors and charioteers, both male and female (figure 4.13), are frequent motifs on

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Celtic coins; a silver coin from Scarisoara in Romania has a mounted soldier on the reverse. The southern Gaulish sanctuary of Roquepertuse was decorated with human skulls, perhaps those of battle-victims; here also were stone images of war-gods, and a stone frieze dating to the third or second century

BC is carved with four horse heads.54 One panel of the Gundestrup Cauldron (figure 4.5) depicts various contingents of a

Celtic army, including foot-soldiers, horsemen and trumpeters with their boar-headed carnyxes.55 A pot made in the first century BC and discovered at Kelvedon in Essex is stamped with images of spiky-haired horsemen (perhaps with the lime-washed hair alluded to by classical writers on Celtic warriors), bearing hexagonal Celtic shields and curious crook-shaped objects.56 A brooch from Numantia in Spain (figure 4.7) depicts a naked, mounted warrior with his horse trampling a severed human head.

Figure 4.6 Stone frieze of alternating horses and severed heads from the pre-Roman oppidum at Nages, Provence, France.

Figure 4.7 Iron Age bronze brooch in the form of a horseman, with a severed human head beneath the horse's chin, Numantia, Spain. Paul Jenkins.

In the Romano-Celtic period, Celtic warriors were still depicted, but mainly in the form of gods (chapter 8): thus the sky-god is shown on horseback (figure 8.7), riding down the monstrous forces of evil represented by a giant which is half-human, half-serpent. Among the tribes of eastern Britain, a Celtic version of Mars appears transformed from his Roman guise to that of a native horseman. He appears thus as Mars 'Corotiacus' (a native sobriquet) at Martlesham in Suffolk, and on a bronze figurine at Peterborough. Several little votive figures of horsemen were offered at the shrines of Brigstock in Northamptonshire. Stone warriors on horseback are represented, for instance at Margidunum (figure 4.8) — A recent acquisition by the British Museum consists of a bronze figurine of a war-god mounted on a proud, high-stepping horse. It was discovered on the

Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire border near the Roman site of Brough and close to the Fosse Way. The rider wears a helmet, short tunic with leather thongs, and greaves. The horse is more carefully modelled than his rider, and his ornamental harness can clearly be seen. The high-stepping stance perhaps reflects the horse's participation in a procession or parade.60

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