The Barbarian Fringe

The term 'Barbarian' was applied indiscriminately by the Greeks and Romans to all who resided outside the boundaries of their Empires. In its purest sense the word meant either non-Greek or non-Roman and was applied to the Gauls, the Goths, the Dacians, and, farther away, the Scythians, Danes, Northmen, Celts and Britons. But although these tribes were still in a semi-pastoral state, they had a civilization of their own and provide us today with by far the most interesting relics of the Bronze Age, (11) ranging from long before 1000 B.C. down to Early Christian Days. Many of these relics have been recovered from kitchen middens and bogs, from the long barrows and round barrows in which some tribes buried their dead, and from chance discoveries at river fords and similar places. Occasionally discoveries have been made of 'hoards' left by an old bronzefounder and implements of many kinds have been collected in great numbers - celts, palstaves, spear-heads, arrow tips, tools of various kinds, shields, buckets, ornaments, even jewellery.

After the discovery of iron-smelting and working, which has been traced to Hallstadt, Austria, around about 600 B.C., that metal steadily grew in importance even among the barbarians, until at last it predominated; but for many centuries the two metals were used more or less in equal proportions. Much of the earliest iron work, however, has perished through being transformed into shapeless rust, whereas the copper and bronze have survived to augment modern knowledge of the art and craftwork of the ancient world. of artistic objects.

11 SMITH, R.A. Guide to the Antiquities of the Bronze Age in the British Museum (1920).