While researching the ancient history of Stokeleigh Camp and the people that lived there, I felt it became important to understand how the Dobunni tribe lived and existed. I was particularly interested to research the relationship the Dobunni had with the spaces they inhabited and any practices of creativity that may have existed.
In comparison to other ancient eras, relatively little is known about Iron Age Britain. It is clear that Iron Age Britain was considered less interesting and important to the Victorians who established our national museum collections and that Roman, Greek and Egyptian history was the main focus of their attention. Together with the fact that the Ancient Britons did not write as a means of communication, the information we can gather on the Ancient Britons is largely guesswork.
Ancient Britain prior to Roman invasion in AD 43 has often been considered to be uncivilised and barbaric. In fact, I have found that the communities that inhabited southern England to be industrious farmers who lived within established communities and there is evidence of early trading within different tribes. My research has shown that Stokeleigh Camp is not a single outpost of one community, but part of Wansdyke, a long line of defensive earthworks running from mid Somerset across to Wiltshire. This in itself indicates that there was, to some degree, an arrangement of organisation and co-operation beyond the immediate community at Stoke Leigh Camp.
Religious belief in Iron Age Britain was complex and deeply ingrained into everyday activities such as farming, cooking and metalworking. Although finds of Iron Age religious temples are very rare, religious offerings have been found deposited in homes, hill tops and rivers, where evidence has been found of sacrificial activities offered to the Gods. While little has been discovered at Stokeleigh Camp in terms of preserved artefacts, finds of pottery have linked the Belgae tribe to the area. Additionally, a Gallienus coin has been recovered and an iron La Tene broach has also been found.
It seems likely that creativity had a role within Iron Age society. Finds dated to the same era at other south English locations suggest that social status was an emerging factor as communities grew. The decoration of weapons and other everyday household items reflect the importance of the spaces in which they lived. The Battersea Shield is a Bronze shield found in the River Thames and shows a clear need for style as well as functional protection. Discoveries of mirrors allow us to conclude that vanity and grooming where a way for people to display social status as this became increasingly more important.
There is some debate over whether StokeLeigh Camp was actually inhabited on a permanent basis or if it was constructed as a form of strong hold that could be used in times of turbulence. The lack of archaeological finds suggests the latter. What can be clearly established is that the camp was one of a pair, with a counterpart Earthworks the other side of the Avon Gorge on Clifton Down.
LLOYD MORGAN, C., 2019. Notes on the Clifton, Burwalls and Stokeleigh Camps. Clifton Antiquarian Club, [Online]. 5, 8-24. Available at: http://www.cliftonantiquarian.co.uk/CAC_docs/CAC%20Clifton%20Stokeleigh%20and%20Burwalls.pdf[Accessed 16 March 2019].
YouTube. 2019. History of Britain Life Before the Romans Documentary on BBC – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ny9H8SO_A. [Accessed 15 March 2019].
British Museum. 2019. British Museum – Celts . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/past_exhibitions/2015/celts.aspx. [Accessed 16 March 2019].