The Ancient Brits loved their wheels. Indeed they seem to have been so attached to their sports-car-style chariots that they may even have thought they could use them to get to the next world.
Academic knowledge about these elegant high status prehistoric British vehicles is now set to increase significantly, following the discovery of an ancient Briton buried inside his chariot in East Yorkshire.
Although around 20 other similar chariot graves have been found over the past century or so in the UK (mainly in Yorkshire), this new discovery, unearthed on the outskirts of the market town of Pocklington at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, is the only example ever excavated by modern archaeologists in which the two horses, used to pull the vehicle, were also interred.
What’s more, the burial forms part of one of the most important Iron Age funerary complexes found in Britain over the past half century.
The Pocklington chariot burial, excavated over the past two months, was the final resting place of an upper-class Iron Age Briton – probably a warrior – who lived in the third or fourth century BC. It is possible that he was a member of an ancient British tribe called the Parisi (or their ancestors) – a culture related to other Iron Age peoples in Northern France.
Excavating his grave, archaeologists from a Yorkshire-based company MAP Archaeological Practice – have found the stain ‘imprints’ left in the ground by the rotted wood of the 12 spokes of one of the chariot’s wheels; the iron tyre (which would have gone round that wheel); the stain imprint of the chariot’s central timber pole (which connected the vehicle to the two horses pulling it); the stain imprint of the box-shaped compartment that the driver (and potentially one companion) stood in; the two horses used to pull the vehicle; the bridle bit; the iron nave hoop band (which went round the axle); and the remains of the driver himself.
The only missing element (almost…