Iron Age (c. 300 BC)



Garton Slack Chariot Burial

Garton Slack Chariot Burial
©: East Riding Archaeological Research Trust

Since the recognition by Ian Stead in the 1960s of the extensive Iron Age ‘Arras’ culture in East Yorkshire, based on the burial remains of the immigrant Parisii tribe who had settled here at the time, large numbers of burials have since been identified by aerial photography in isolation, in small groups and, most significantly, in large cemeteries, amounting to many hundreds of individual graves. Four of the largest such cemeteries are at Arras, Dane’s Graves, Garton/Wetwang Slack and at Rudston/Burton Fleming, all indicating substantial settlements in the area. A complex range of barrow types and burial practices has emerged, including the much acclaimed rich and elaborate cart (chariot) burials, of which this one at Garton Slack, excavated by Brewster in 1971, is one of the best examples. Looking for all the world like a man who has just fallen off his bicycle, they are in fact the remains of an adult Iron Age male, about 30 years of age, very possibly a warrior, with the wheels of his chariot laid alongside, together with assorted chariot and horse trappings, often gilded and enamelled in the characteristic ‘Celtic’ (La Tène) style of the time and fine examples of Iron Age metalwork. Both the wrought iron bridle bit and the wooden chariot pole shaft appear to have been deliberately broken in two, not simply to fit them into the grave, but as an act of symbolic ‘killing’ of the equipment to accompany the burial. Beside him on the west side were the remains of his whip while on his stomach and chest had been placed portions of a pig’s head, presumably as food for the afterlife. The type of burial and the various pieces of metalwork point to a date somewhere between the later part of the 3rd century BC and early in the 2nd century BC for the Garton Slack chariot.