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Celts and Romans at Birnie: Two Sides of the Coin

5-14 Teachers’ and Pupils’ Resource Box

Celts and Romans at Birnie: Two Sides of the Coin 5-14 Teachers’ and Pupils’ Resource Box 1. Introduction Welcome to the Celts and Romans at Birnie resource box. This box contains replica objects and teaching resources linked to the Iron Age archaeological site at Birnie, near Elgin. This site has been investigated by the National Museums of Scotland Archaeology Department over the last few years.

How to use this box We suggest you use this box as part of your class’s experience of visiting the dig site at Birnie. It can also be used as a stand alone resource to contribute to work for the Environmental Studies curriculum, in particular People in the Past, or conjunction with a visit to Elgin Museum, where some of the finds from the dig are on display.

Thanks and acknowledgements

The teaching resource material for this box was written by Mary Shand (New Elgin Primary) and Damian Etherington (Lossiemouth High School) - many thanks to both for their enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment to this project. This was made possible by the Excellence in Education through Business Links placement opportunity provided by Robert Tyson at Careers Scotland.

Many thanks also to Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator of Later Prehistoric, Roman & Early Prehistoric Archaeology for offering advice, editing material and sourcing images, and Julie Douglass of Artefacts for the creation of the replica handling materials and information on Celtic costume. All illustrations are supplied by kind permission of Alan Braby.

Celts and Romans at Birnie: Two Sides of the Coin List of Contents Introduction Birnie: An Introduction Birnie Finds Birnie Map Birnie and the Roman World: Info Sheets Scotland and Rome Birnie timeline Life at Birnie: Info Sheets Roundhouses A Celtic Farm Spirits and Gods Weapons and War Meeting the Romans: Activity Sheets Silver Coins Strangers in Moray! Beyond Civilisation Into Battle The Written Word Iron Age Fashion Brooches and Jewellery Life at Birnie: Activity Sheets A Day on the Farm Inside a Roundhouse Dyeing, Weaving and Spinning Wattle and Daub Iron Age Pottery Reading List and Useful Websites Glossary of terms Replica Iron Age Objects Info Resource Box Checklist Evaluation Form

Birnie: An Introduction Over the last few years, the archaeological site at Birnie has revealed more and more secrets about Moray’s Iron Age past. In 1996 a scatter of Roman coins was found in a field near Birnie Kirk by a local metaldetectorist. This led archaeologists to the site. In 2000 they discovered a coin hoard, and a second hoard was found in 2001. Since then excavations have explored this Iron Age settlement which was in contact with the Roman world. Archaeologists from the National Museums of Scotland and local volunteers have returned to Birnie each summer, uncovering the remains of this settlement and Roman and Iron Age artefacts. The Roman artefacts and coin hoards were probably bribes or gifts from the Romans to local chieftains to keep the peace, a diplomatic tactic used throughout the Empire. The hoards date to the reign of the Emperor Severus (AD 193-211), who organised the last major Roman invasion of Scotland. Why did the people of Birnie bury the coins? What was their life like at this time? What did they think about the Romans and their gifts? Were they friends or enemies? These questions and many more have been asked by the archaeologists on site as they uncover fascinating evidence about the past. This box will help you ask the same questions about the people who lived at Birnie, and become part of an exciting, contemporary investigation into Iron Age Moray.

Birnie: An Iron Age Settlement We know from the evidence at Birnie that the people living there were farmers. The land around them provided them with food, shelter and clothing. They were similar to other people living in Scotland at that time, but lived in their own community or group at the Birnie settlement. This period is called the Iron Age by archaeologists. This is because iron first came into widespread use during this time (from around 700 BC to AD 400). Iron is extracted from iron-rich rocks (ores), which are heated in a very hot fire or furnace to produce iron metal. This iron was then hammered into shape to make weapons and tools. The people in Scotland living during the Iron Age are also sometimes called Celts, a name we use for the different peoples who lived across most of western and central Europe during the Iron Age. They spoke a Celtic language – an early form of modern Welsh. The people at Birnie lived in large roundhouses made from wood, thatch, turf and clay. Some of the roundhouses were up to 16 metres wide and might have been more than one storey high. The big ones probably held both animals and people. There would have been a central hearth or cooking pit. The people at Birnie were farmers, ploughing the fields around the site, growing barley, and keeping cattle, sheep and pigs. But times could be unsettled, and when they needed to, they would have been ready to fight, with iron swords and spears .They were also craft-workers, making jewellery and other prestigious items from bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. They also had contacts with other groups, including the Romans, to get jewellery and other objects. Although we know little about what the people at Birnie wore, as clothing very rarely survives, we can guess that they made clothes and shoes from the animals they kept. A sheep’s fleece could be dyed with plants and minerals to give it brighter colours, then spun and woven to make material for clothing and blankets. Hides would provide leather for shoes and belts. They believed in many different gods, and worshipped them by burying

Birnie Finds Lots of interesting artefacts have been found by the archaeologists at Birnie over the last few years. All of them help to piece together the jigsaw of what life was like there. Use the information below with the photographs of the finds to discuss the evidence from Birnie with your class. Some ideas for questions to ask while looking at the pictures are also included.

The Birnie Hoards Coins The two coin hoards were found stashed in clay pots with the remains of leather and string from the bags in which they were buried in. The remains of bracken were also discovered, presumably to line the pot. The hoards are mostly Roman silver denari, but also include some coins from the Eastern Empire and a few forgeries. The coins date from the reign of the Emperor Severus (AD 193-211), who organised the last major Roman invasion of Scotland. The last coin dates from 197. However, we can’t be certain how long after that date the coins came to Birnie, or exactly when they were buried. Pot The pot is a simple Iron Age coil pot made from fired clay. See photo of coin hoard and activity sheet ‘Birnie Coins’ for group discussion ideas Roman Brooches and Iron Age Jewellery This brooch is made from bronze and decorated with blue and red enamel. Enamel is a kind of coloured glass. The Roman brooches found on site were most probably given by the Romans as gifts or bribes to the people of Birnie. Locally-made glass beads were also found, including one made of yellow glass. This could have come from a necklace or bracelet. • What do you think this tells us about how the people of Birnie liked to dress themselves?

Roman Bird Mount This tiny bird on a ring was perhaps used as a pin head. It is made from bronze, decorated with yellow, white, blue and red enamel. It is a miniature work of art, made in Roman Britain. • What do you think the gifts of expensive objects tell us about how the Romans saw the people of Birnie?

Chariot Ring This bronze ring was used on a chariot yoke to guide the reins of a horse. At this time, chariots were only owned by important and rich people. • What do you think this tells us about status of the people who lived at Birnie?

Quern Stones This saddle quern was used to turn grain into flour to make bread. This was done by crushing the grain while you rubbed a small grinding stone backwards and forwards against the bigger stone. Eventually this wore the stone away, making this saddle-like dish shape. The rotary quern was a later invention. It was more efficient. You poured grain into the centre and turned the top stone with a handle, crushing the grain between the two round stones. • What does this tell us about their diet and way of life?

Tools and Pots Many tools were found on site made of iron and stone. Although iron was available, people still used stone tools for many things because they were easy to make and effective. These include tools for hammering, grinding, polishing, rubbing, and sharpening. This iron knife is unusual because it has a spiral pattern on the handle. This might have been used as a razor.

Cropmarks, Postholes and Features Archaeologists don’t just use things they find buried in the ground. Sometimes the ground itself can give clues about what used to be there, and can often help them to find where to start looking for evidence from the past.

Cropmarks Sometimes buildings and walls which don’t survive above ground leave their mark on the ground where they stood. When people build things, they often move soil around and make foundations in stone, or dig foundations into the subsoil. When the building is abandoned, these changes to the ground remain. If a crop is planted over these remains, the plants are affected by them. In a hot summer, plants will find more water where people have dug pits and ditches, and will stay green for longer. By contrast, plants over buried walls will have less water, and will

• Look at the aerial photograph taken of the field at Birnie. Can you see where these cropmarks are? What shape of building do you think used to be here?

Postholes Postholes are holes in the ground where there used to be wooden posts. The wooden post has either been destroyed or has rotted away, changing the colour of the soil. If many postholes are found together archaeologists can work out the shape and size of the house. • Look at the aerial photograph of the field again. Can you spot the postholes?

Features People dig lots of holes in and around their houses – for posts, for cooking pits, for rubbish pits, and for lots of other reasons. These remain for us to find today, because they are filled with a soil which is darker than the natural sand. The finds from them can tell us what they were used for. • Look at the drawing showing a cross section of part of a roundhouse that has been excavated. Can you spot the post hole? How big is it?

Map of Birnie Birnie

Scotland and Rome Romans first arrived in Britain in 55 BC under the command of Julius Caesar. This was mainly to explore the possibility of an invasion, but they quickly returned to France to deal with the rebellious tribes in Gaul. However, the Romans were curious about this strange land of wild Celtic tribesmen, and the promise of great wealth and glory made Britain attractive to the Romans. In 43 AD the Emperor Claudius launched a new campaign to conquer Britain, and over the next thirty years or so the legion slowly advanced north, reaching southern Scotland. In 79 AD the governor of the Roman province of Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, marched into Scotland. Most of our knowledge of this campaign comes from the writer Tacitus, who recorded this for his biography of Agricola, his father-in-law. Agricola made quick progress in his advance and at first appears to have met little opposition. Agricola’s campaigns in Scotland ended in the battle of Mons Graupius in 83 AD. According to Tacitus, the battle took place in the shadow of a large mountain, Mons Graupius, in the North East of Scotland. He says that 10,000 Celts, a third of their force, were killed by a much smaller Roman army – although he was probably exaggerating. Although Agricola’s campaign was successful, trouble in other parts of the Empire meant the Romans soon had to retreat south and by 122 AD a wall ordered by the Emperor Hadrian had fixed the limits of the Roman Empire to northern England. After Hadrian’s death, the Romans moved north again. In 142 AD Antoninus Pius, the new Emperor, built a new frontier. The Antonine Wall was a massive wall built of turf which stretched from the River Forth in the east to the River Clyde in the west, cutting Scotland in two. However, 25 years later on Pius’s death the army withdrew once again to Hadrian’s Wall, and the Antonine Wall was abandoned. The last major Roman campaign in Scotland was led by the Emperor Severus from 208-211 AD. The tribes of northern Scotland had been causing turmoil on the frontier, and attempts to buy them off had failed. Severus marched his armies north to deal with the troublesome tribes, but the Celts had learned from previous experience and retreated to the hills to avoid the Roman army. Severus did not complete his campaign as he died in 211 AD at York. His son, Caracalla, made peace by negotiating new treaties and returned to Rome. This approach seems to have been successful as there were no reports of trouble from the Celtic tribes in Scotland for almost a hundred years.


The coin hoards from Birnie fit nicely into Severus’s policy of ‘buying peace’. Both coin hoards can be dated to the 190’s AD. However, problems arose again. Across northern Europe, barbarian groups beyond the frontier became powerful and attacked the Roman Empire. By 400 AD Roman rule in Britain was failing, as troops were needed on the continent to stamp out attacks from barbarian tribes across the rest of Europe.

Romans in Scotland Timeline • 55 & 54 BC Julius Caesar invades southern Britain, but doesn’t stay • 0 AD Birth of Jesus Christ • 43 Invasion of Britain by the Emperor Claudius • 60-61 Boudicca led revolts against the Romans in the south • 79 Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britannia, invades Scotland • 83 Battle of Mons Graupius, between Romans and Caledonians. The Romans win - many Caledonians lose their lives • 122 Building of Hadrian’s Wall

• 142 Antonine wall built

• 193 -211 Reign of Emperor Severus. The Birnie coins date from this period

• around 410 End of Roman Rule in Britain


Life at Birnie: Roundhouses

The people of Birnie lived in roundhouses. These buildings were very common in Britain, and had timber frames, thatched roofs and walls made of wattle and daub (mud and sticks) or of turf. These were all common materials found locally. The archaeologists have found the remains of at least 10 roundhouses at Birnie. The most obvious remains are rings of postholes in the ground which once held up the roof. There are also hearths, cooking pits, and eroded areas where animals were kept or people walked about. The roundhouses were very large, up to 16 metres wide; a house this size could have been eight metres tall. How big is your classroom? Could you fit a roundhouse in it? We think the houses at Birnie would have had conical thatched roofs to let rainwater run off. The thatched roof also helped keep the house warm in the winter. The roof would have been held up by strong wooden posts. They were heated by a fire in the centre of the room. The fire was the heart of the home, and was kept burning day and night, all year round. Smoke from the fire would escape through the thatch, as there were no smoke holes. The fire would have been the major source of light, as not much light would come in through the door. It would have been dark and smoky inside a roundhouse, but quite comfortable. In the big houses, it is likely that the animals were kept inside during the winter. The largest roundhouses probably had an upper floor where people would have slept. The houses probably held an extended family, perhaps 12-15 people. For warmth and comfort, they covered the floor with heaps of animal skins or thick layers of straw, bracken or rushes. Some houses may have had wooden floors. • Look at the drawings showing how one archaeologist thought they might have looked, both inside and out. What evidence from Birnie do you think they used? What else might they have used to help complete the picture? What can we not be sure about?


Life at Birnie: A Celtic Farm During the Iron Age, Birnie was a thriving farming community. The land around the settlement is ideal for growing crops and grazing cattle. Life on the farm would have been hard work. Men and women, children and adults would have all been expected to play their part. The finds at Birnie show that there were countless jobs needing to be done to keep the farm working smoothly. The most important crop grown was barley. Celtic farmers used ards (a simple type of plough) pulled by cattle to turn over the soil in their fields to prepare the ground for planting. Seeds of grain were scattered by hand in early spring. The crops would have been ready to harvest in later summer or early autumn. The grain was crushed into flour by special stones called querns. This was a time consuming job. Once made into flour this could be used to make bread. The farm would also have been home to a variety of animals. The remains of cattle, sheep and pigs have been found at Birnie. As well as producing meat, cows and sheep provided milk which could be used to make butter and cheese. The fleece from a sheep could be made into wool by spinning it using a spindle whorl, then woven into cloth using a loom. Animal skins could be turned into leather, and the fat could be used to make candle wax (tallow). Other parts of the animals could also be used to make string (sinew) and glue. Birds, like geese and ducks, would have given them eggs and meat. • Look at the two photos of quern stones found at Birnie. How do you think each one was used to make flour? Which would be easier to use?


Life at Birnie: Spirits and Gods The Celts worshipped lots of different gods and spirits. They believed they had lots of different powers, to give them strength in war, protect homes and bring food. They also believed they controlled natural forces, such as water and thunder. To keep them happy they gave them offerings and gifts. These were often buried in sacred places, such as bogs, rivers, or sometimes in their settlements. The gifts could be elaborate jewellery or weaponry, but sometimes it could be altogether more grisly, such as sacrificial offerings of living things. Many objects appear to have been deliberately buried at Birnie. These include a broken sword, quern stones and animal bones. However, so far the most important burials are the two coin hoards. • Do you think these might have also been offerings to the gods, or simply buried for safe keeping? Let’s look at the evidence….. 1. Both pots were buried near the remains of roundhouses – but not inside the houses. 2. There are postholes near each pot. Could this be the remains of a carved wooden religious statue, or simply marking where the pot was? 3. The coins were very valuable to the Romans, but the Celts didn’t use money. Which explanation do you think is most likely? Back up your argument by using the evidence.


Life at Birnie: Weapons and War The Celts lived in a troubled time. Conflict was a part of everyday life. They relied on their strength and weapons to survive. All Celtic warriors knew that a battle might lead to death, but their beliefs helped them face death and danger. They believed that it was better to die in the battle than to survive and face defeat. However, large-scale battles were rare for the people of Birnie. Most fights would have been between small groups from neighbouring areas, perhaps during raids for cattle and booty. The sword was the most important weapon the Celts had. Celtic swords are rarely found because they were too valuable to bury. However, the remains of one were discovered at Birnie. It had been deliberately broken. This sword was used for cutting and slashing. It would have been held in a highly decorated scabbard of leather, wood or bronze. Celtic warriors went into battle with very little protection. They often only had a long shield made of leather and wood to save them from harm. Armour was very rare – only top warriors could afford it. Instead Celtic warriors wore their normal clothes, tunics and baggy trousers, or fought naked. This showed they were not scared of being injured or killed. Other common weapons were spears and javelins. These would have been used for both throwing and stabbing at enemies in battle and for hunting animals. Another favourite weapon was the sling. Slings were used to fire small rounded stones over long distances. The Celts didn’t write down or leave much evidence of about themselves, but archaeologists still know a little of what they might have looked like while in battle. • How do you think this is? Think about who else might have seen Celtic warriors around this time, and have written down a description of them.


Meeting the Romans: Silver Coins Look at the photos of the Roman coins found at Birnie. Can you find? • Letters/words – What kind of writing is this? Take a guess at what you think it might say • A picture – who might this be? Compare the photos of the two coins. Which one do you think is older, and why?

Compare a modern coin with the replica coins in the box. What do you notice is different about the coins, and what is similar? Design your own coin like those found at Birnie. You must include: 1. A drawing of your own head – give yourself a Roman hairstyle like those found on the Birnie coins 2. Your name written around the edge with this year on it • The Celts may have believed that the head held a special power. Just like the coins we use today, the Birnie coins all have a head on them. Do you think that these Roman coins might have held magical powers for them?


Meeting the Romans: Strangers in Moray! Most Iron Age Celts in the Moray region would have lived in farms. Travel was difficult and most people would have known only their own area. The arrival of the Romans and Roman goods might have been very exciting to them. How would the people at Birnie have seen the arrival of exotic goods and people to the area? Would they have regarded them as friendly or threatening, funny looking or interesting, mysterious or a bit disappointing? Imagine you are a person living at Birnie. Decide what character you are – are you a child, woman or father with a family, or a great Chief of the village? Write a short conversation between you and another Celt about the arrival of the hoard of Roman coins. Explain to them what you have seen and heard. Make sure your story is a good one, and think about the character you are and how this might change what you say. Perform the conversation like a short play to the rest of the class. • Why was conversation and storytelling so important to the people of Birnie?


Meeting the Romans: Beyond Civilisation The Roman Empire covered a huge area around the Mediterranean Sea. Romans considered themselves the most civilised culture in their world. They thought that people beyond the borders of the empire were barbarians. The Celts were both feared for their warlike nature and despised as uncivilised. Imagine you are a reporter with a Roman newspaper and you have travelled with the group which has brought gifts of money for the settlement of Birnie. This is an attempt to bribe the Celts to be friendly so that they don’t attack the Roman towns and forts in the south. What do you think of the people you meet? What do they look like to your Roman eyes? Do you think your mission to bribe them will be successful or are they untrustworthy? Should the government at home just attack them or carry on being friends? Write an article for your paper back home. Give your newspaper a suitable name and your article a gripping headline. You could include pictures, interviews with Roman officials or army officers, and maybe accounts of life in the Birnie village.


Meeting the Romans: Into Battle Celtic warriors were brave fighters, proud of their individual strength and courage. They sometimes combed lime through their hair to make it stand on end and they painted decorations on their faces and bodies with plant dye. Some fought stripped to the waist or even naked to show they were not afraid of wounds. They fought with swords and flung heavy spears - their style of fighting was loud and wild. Women could be warriors too. Important warriors rode chariots into battle. Roman soldiers were professionals who joined the army as a long term career. They trained hard, were well disciplined and obeyed orders given by their commanders. Although made up mainly of infantry, the army also had cavalry, archers and engineers. The soldiers had a standard uniform, which included armour, a short stabbing sword and javelins. People from all over the Empire joined the army and were sent wherever they were needed. When people went into battle their leaders might give a speech to encourage them and remind them what they were fighting for. If you were a Celtic or Roman leader, what would you say to your troops? How would you give them confidence and make them believe they were going to win? Would you insult your enemy? Write out a speech for either a Celtic or Roman commander.


Meeting the Romans: The Written Word Iron Age Celts had no written language, so all communication was by word of mouth. People had to have good memories to remember things. Anything about them that was written down was done by people who did use writing - the Greeks and Romans. The Romans adapted their alphabet from the Etruscans, who had taken it from the Greeks. They changed some letter shapes and added some of their own. At first, Roman lettering was all capitals. It was simple and clear, easily carved into stone and able to be read from a distance. When carving the letters into stone the masons found it difficult to make the ends look neat. They developed a method of finishing each letter with a short line. These short lines are called serifs. When the Romans came to Britain, people in the province of Britannia started to use Roman lettering and writing. However in northern Scotland this did not happen until later, when the first Christians came into the area. 1.

Copy the lettering below and write your name in Roman capitals


Why was it important that the letters be clear and simple?


What do we call the short strokes at the ends of Roman lettering?

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP QRSTUVWXYZ This picture shows some writing found on a distance marker from the Antonine wall. Look at the writing on it? Can you see a name on it? What does it say?


Meeting the Romans: Iron Age Fashion Look at the pictures of the clothing worn by Celtic and Roman people and the replica Iron Age costumes in the box. If you were a Roman, what would you think of the Celtic styles? Would you find their styles very different, funny, exotic or exciting? Compare your hairstyles or jewellery and clothes to that of the Celts. If you were a Celt, what would you think of the Romans? Write another description from their point of view.




Meeting the Romans: Brooches and Jewellery The Roman brooches found at Birnie are made mostly from bronze and enamel, a kind of coloured glass. They would have been used to attach cloaks and other clothes together, and to show the status and wealth of the person wearing them. Design a new Roman brooch to give to the people of Birnie as a gift of bribe. Look at the photos of the brooches already found here, and make a piece of jewellery using similar patterns and colours. Find materials that could copy those on the brooches – how about gold foil for bronze, and coloured card or sequins for enamel?


Life at Birnie: A Day on the Farm Make a cartoon or storyboard about daily life at Birnie. Create 6 scenes that tell the story of one day on the Birnie settlement. Start with scene 1: people would have woken early. The first job of the day would be to restart the fire to cook breakfast. Finish with 6: At the end of the day everyone was tired and would have gone to bed after sitting around the fire. What happened in between? Use the evidence from Birnie to imagine what a normal day would have been like.

Instructions 1. Write your name and class on the storyboard. 2. Discuss with your group what types of jobs people would have had to do on the farm everyday. 3. Plan what you are going to draw and write for each scene. 4. In the space provided next to each scene write what is happening in your drawing. 1.







Life at Birnie: Inside a Roundhouse Label the different parts of the roundhouse using the words below. One has been done for you.

Thatch roof Doorway Wooden posts

Hearth Beds Stables


Life at Birnie: Dyeing, Spinning and Weaving To make clothes and blankets, the Iron Age people at Birnie would have used wool from a sheep. This was dyed, spun and woven to make cloth. The root of the madder plant was used to make red dye, the woad plant was used to make blue dye, and yellow was made from the flower of the weld plant. The plants were put in hot water and then the wool soaked in this dye bath. Stale urine was used to fix dyes and stop them from running. Spindle-whorls (round clay or stone weights used to make the wool turn around), carved bone weaving combs, and loom-weights also of stone or clay - which held down the warp threads on the loom - are found on many Iron Age domestic sites. The weaving was done on an upright loom, and the cloth made may have looked at bit like modern tartan or plaid, with red, blue and yellow patterns. The colours produced by natural dyes, however, were much less bright than those produced by modern, synthetic dyes. Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC, described the Celts wearing 'shirts which have been dyed and embroidered in various colours'. Try to dye some natural wool using different plants. Find out how to do this using a website or book on natural dyes. Use a card loom to make a piece of checked material like tartan. • Look at the replica costumes in the handling box and try them on. What do they feel like to wear? Do you think would have kept you warm? What about if it rained?


Life at Birnie: Wattle and Daub The frame of a roundhouse would have been made of upright timbers, which were interwoven with coppiced wood - usually hazel, oak, ash or willow - to make ‘wattle’ walls. This was then covered with a ‘daub’ made from clay, soil, straw and animal manure to weatherproof the house. The roof was made from large timbers with thatch made from straw. Make your own wattle and daub using sticks, clay and straw or grass. How easy is it to do? Do you think it would make the house totally waterproof? Would it be warm inside the house?


Iron Age Pottery Basic Iron Age cooking pots were made by hand from local clay and in different shapes, sometimes with a simple design on them. Until the first century BC, most British pots were coil or slab-shaped pots. Clay was mixed with a 'temper' such as sand or crushed pottery, and formed into a pot shape. The pot was fired until hard under a bonfire or in a shallow pit. Make a coil pot using some air drying clay. Use the clay to make one long sausage shape and a flat, pancake shape. Attach the sausage to the edge of the pancake, pressing it together with your fingers. Coil the sausage round the pancake. When you have done one full circle, keep coiling it round on top of the bottom coil. Repeat this until you have run out of the sausage. Smooth the coils together to make a flat surface to the sides of the pot, both inside and out. You can then change the shape of the pot by pushing out or pulling in the sides of the pot. Why not try to copy the shape of the pot found at Birnie? Decorate your pot before it dries using natural materials like shell, feathers or sticks to make marks into the pot in patterns.


Reading List Teachers Celtic Scotland I Armit 1997 ISBN 0713489499 Settlement and sacrifice: the later prehistoric people of Scotland R Hingley 1998 ISBN 1841583839 Hadrian’s Wall in the days of the Romans ISBN 0905778855 The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome ISBN 0140513299

Children’s Celtic Gods and Heroes Dover Colouring Book ISBN 0486427927 Celtic Designs DoverClip Art ISBN 0486289869 Tales from the Mabinogion Gwyn Thomas and Kevin Crossley-Holland ISBN 0575035315 Step Into – The Celtic World Fiona MacDonald ISBN 1840386479 People of Our Past - The Celts ISBN 0356073025 Life in Celtic Times Dover Colouring Book ISBN 0486297144 The Ancient World (Core Level C/D, 5-14 Environmental Studies, History) David Young and Alan J Wilson ISBN 1872035574 The Celts Activity Book ISBN 071411393X


Minimus – Starting Out in Latin Minimus Secundus (Cambridge University Press) History National Curriculum KS2 The Romans Frontier Wolf Rosemary Sutcliffe Oxford University Press ISBN 0192714821 History Invasion Scotland Folen’s Copymaster Brain Waves ISBN 1852760648 A History of Scotland Book 1 ISBN 0199170428 Usbourne Pocket Guide to Ancient Rome ISBN 0860205371 The Romans Activity Book (British Museum) ISBN 0714112828 Spotlights - The Romans ISBN 1871869900


Useful Websites BBC Schools



Glossary of Archaeological Terms

Word Aerial photography

Description Photos taken from the air and used to provide information about the buried remains seen in cropmarks


The study of the evidence of human culture from the past found through excavation


An item that has been made by a person, normally used to describe things made by people in the past


The headgear used to control a horse when riding it


A mixture of copper and tin and sometimes other metals


A piece of jewellery fixed to clothing, like a decorative safety pin


A material which forms when wood is burnt without air


A metal which is a reddish brown colour


Archaeological marks in fields that can be seen from the air, created by the different speed crops ripen if they grow over structures underground. They can be seen from the air using aerial photography


A bowl that can stand high temperatures, used for melting and heating


A single Roman silver coin


More than one Roman silver coin


The method by which glaze and colour are mixed together, applied on jewellery and melted by heat


How archaeologists uncover and record buried objects from a piece of land to learn about the past

Field walking

A way of finding artefacts or spotting archaeological features by searching a field by foot


The place where an artefact is found



Word Geophysics

Description Building a picture of buried remains by measuring the soils magnetism or resistance


A collection of artefacts buried underground or hidden on purpose

Iron Age

The period of history when people first discovered and used iron to make tools and weapons, from around 750 BC to 400 AD

Metal detector

A machine which gives off a signal when it finds metal

Organic material

Stuff made from living things like wood and leather


A wooden wall used to protect a space or building


A hole for a wooden post, usually filled with material to keep the post steady

Radio carbon dating

A way to date organic material

Rotary quern

A circular stone turned to grind corn


A traditional circular Iron Age house made of timber, thatch and wattle and daub

Ring ditch

A circular feature, usually seen as a cropmark from the air, that is all that remains of a circular structure such as a round house

Saddle quern

A simple stone used to grind corn by rubbing it backwards and forwards


The waste product of making iron


A stick used to twist yarn to spin into thread

Spindle whorl

A weight attached to the end of a spindle to help keep the thread spinning

Spoil heap

A heap of excavated soil


An excavated area


A tool used by archaeologists to dig in the ground. An archaeologist's trowel is straight-edged, not curved like a shovel or garden trowel


A shaped stone that is used to sharpen the edge of

Wattle and Daub

A way of creating walls using wooden sticks (wattle) to hold a mixture of mud and dung (daub) while it dries to become weatherproof

Replica Iron Age Artefacts Roman denarii/silver coins These are coins similar to the ones found in the hoard pots, but are from earlier periods in the Empire. They are all silver denarii. One denarii was worth about £50, and 25 of these made up one aureus (a gold coin). A legionary would earn roughly one denari a day, or about 300 per year. If you look carefully at the coins you can see different Heads of State. In the days before television, radio and newspapers, coins were a good way of getting ideas and propaganda about the Empire around the large areas it covered. On the front (obverse) was usually the ruling emperor’s face, which showed what they looked like. On the other side of the coin (reverse), gods, animals or mythological beasts were often shown. This was because the ruling emperor wanted to be associated with their qualities, such as strength or courage. They sometimes showed important buildings or events, displaying the culture and might of Rome. In this box there are 4 different kinds of coins. These are: Denarius of Caesar (ruled as Dictator for life from 45-44BC) Julius Caesar was never an emperor; he was a general who was made dictator of Rome. The first to make military expeditions to Britain, he conquered Gaul (modern France and Belgian). The front of the coin shows an elephant and a serpent, representing Caesar’s achievement in conquering Gaul. The back shows sacrificial instruments which refers to his role as Chief Priest. Denarius of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) This shows the astrological sign of Capricorn (a goat) which is the birth sign of Augustus. Denarius of Vespasian (69 - 79 AD) The reverse shows his sons, Domitian and Titus. Denarius of Titus (79 - 81 AD) Titus was the son Vespasian. During his rule Wales and South West Britain were conquered. The reverse of the coin shows an eagle, which was usually associated with a deceased emperor being taken to heaven. As Titus was alive, this was referring to his father.

Roman Glassware This footed beaker was used for drinking and feasting. It is very similar to one found at Airlie, Scotland (see photo). This shows how high status goods from the Roman world were making their way into the country, and glassware like this might have been gifted to the people of Birnie


Costumes All of the costumes have been hand made from natural materials, using techniques and designs inspired by evidence from Iron Age sources. The cloth is 100% wool, and has been hand sewn with unbleached linen thread. Decoration on the clothing is made from wool tablet weave in natural fleece colours. Tablet weaving was used in Europe from the Bronze Age and was the usual way of making a starting border from which to weave a length of cloth on a loom. Boy’s Costume The boy’s costume is based on an image of a Caledonian or a Maeatian, taken from a fragment of Roman bronze sculpture from North Africa. It shows a captured slave wearing tight fitting trousers made up of cloth of two or three different designs (see picture). The woven cloth is patterned with a check design, and possibly show one of the earliest examples of tartan trews! On the replica the waist band was dyed using madder root. The rest of the pattern was created out of natural fleece colours. The tunic and some aspects of the trousers, such as the waist band, were inspired by a costume discovered at Thorsbjerg, Denmark. If wanted, the waist band can be folder over to cover the belt, as this is how it may have been worn. Girl’s Costume The girl’s costume is based on the Huldre Fen gown from Denmark. The shoulders have braid ties to hold it together rather than dress pins or brooches, which would probably have been used. The girdle or band to tie in the waist is made of woven linen from bleached and unbleached thread. The dress can be worn either full length for warmth, or gathered up in the belt to wear higher. The folded over double layer of cloth can be worn up over the shoulders to keep your arms warm or even pulled over the head as a hood. Cloak The blue cloth of the cloak would have been dyed using the woad plant. It can be worn tied around the neck or under one arm and on one shoulder, as shown here.


Shoes The shoes are leather, and based on those found at Arnitlund from Jutland, Denmark. This a common shoe found during the Iron Age across Europe. It is made from one piece of leather, with cut out sections laced together (laces made from braded linen thread) to draw the shoe up around the foot. The original ones would have been made from rawhide, but ours is made from vegetable tanned cattle hide. Ours also have added heal stiffeners and insoles, but Iron Age people would have stuffed their shoes with moss, hay or wool to keep their feet warm and dry, and stop the stitching from rubbing. Evidence suggests that during the summer most people would not have worn shoes, and may have only owned one pair per year for the winter months. Their feet would have been much tougher than ours!

Bag The bag is made from oiled, alum tanned calf-skin. This is based on the remains of a leather pouch found inside the hoard pot at Birnie, and was used to store the coins in.

Knife The knife is based on one found at Birnie, with a spiral design on the handle. It is made from iron and may have been used as a razor.

Pot The pot is based on the better preserved of the two found at Birnie. It is made from fired clay.

Necklace This necklace is inspired by glass beads found at Birnie, including one made of yellow glass with a delicate spiral pattern inside. The other beads are simple glass, and the thong is made from leather.


Resource Box Checklist Item Tunic Trousers Cloak Dress Belt/tie Leather shoes (x 2) Leather bag Iron knife Glass beaker Pot Glass bead necklace Bag of coins Book: Celtic Scotland by Ian Armitt Book: A Gathering of Eagles by Richard Hingley


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Birnie resource pack  
Birnie resource pack