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L’âge du Bronze du nord de la France dans son contexte européen, ed. JEAN BOURGEOIS & MARC TALON
Paris, Editions du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques with l’Association pour la promotion des recherches sur l’âge du Bronze (APRAB), 2005; 378 pages, numerous figures and plates; ISBN 2-7355-0572-3 (€38).

This volume is the proceedings of a conference held in Lille in 2000 and is dedicated to Jacques Briard who died in 2002. Monsieur le Président of APRAB, Claude Mordant, pays tribute to Jacques and the editors also remember David Coombs, who died in the same year. It is likely to be of particular interest to Bronze Age pottery specialists since the Bronze Age in northern France has long been known mainly from its metalwork, but the results of archéologie préventive over the past twenty years now provide the basis for this new survey based on pottery and burials. There are also contributions from Belgium and the Netherlands, but British papers delivered in Lille do not appear.

Harry Fokkens starts with the beginning of the Bronze Age in the Netherlands, arguing that the appearance of the Hilversum and Elp cultures around 1800 BC was more significant than the first bronze metalwork around 2000. Hilversum pottery is, however, seen as a functional rather than cultural indicator and. Perhaps it is delay in publication that explains the omission from his bibliography of the great article on the radiocarbon chronology of the Bronze Age in the Netherlands (and much of the rest of Europe besides) by Lanting and van der Plicht in Palaeohistoria, 43/44, 2001/02. The next paper (Lanting and Brindley) summarises briefly radiocarbon dating of calcinated bone and presents a series of consistent dates for calcinated bone and charcoal from the same contexts. Alison Sheridan has enthusiastically applied this technique to cremated bones from urn burials in Scotland so the various types of urns from northern Britain are now much better dated, but it still has to be exploited in the south. The two following papers cover the Bronze Age in Belgian Flanders (Bourgeois & Cherretté) and Hainaut (Henton & Demarez) respectively, concentrating on recent results from burials.

Despite the dedicatee, the remaining papers on France do not include Brittany but extend along the Channel coast from the Belgian border to Normandy with excursions inland. Blancquaert et al. present results from three later Bronze Age settlement sites at Onnaing and Wargnies-le-Petit, Nord, and Guise, Aisne, and Piningre a similar site from the end of the Late Bronze Age at Inghem, Pas-de-Calais. Rescue excavations in the Somme Basin have produced pottery that enables Buchez and Talon to set out a ceramic sequence from the end of the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age, including material with affinities to British plain ware; their paper also includes an annex of Bronze Age sites additional to those listed by Jean-Claude Blanchet in 1984. Brun et al. describe chronology, cultural attribution and social organisation in the Aisne valley. Cremation burials in the same area are analysed by Le Goff and Guichard. Blanchet and Talon discuss twenty years of research on the Bronze Age in the middle Oise valley, with another annex of additional sites. An enclosure at Quièvrecourt, Seine-Maritime, has produced clay sword moulds and pottery that includes forms comparable with Rhine-Swiss-Eastern French Urnfield types of Ha A2 and B1 (Beurion & Billard). The only paper concerned exclusively with metalwork (Billard et al.) describes two gold twisted torcs recovered by fishermen from the sea about 5km off the coast of Normandy; by coincidence, Trevor Cowie has published a similar find from the Minch (Hebridean Naturalist, 12, 1994). Marcigny et al. use pottery from Mondeville, Calvados, and the island of Tatihou, Manche, as the basis of a ceramic chronology for Lower Normandy (ie, west of the Seine). The last two papers venture inland: Gouge and Peake to the margins of the Atlantic Bronze Age at the confluence of the Seine and the Yonne, and Koenig to the Bronze moyen and Bronze final I in Lorraine.

Many of these papers include lists of radiocarbon dates. Much of the pottery illustrated seems - even to this non-specialist - very similar to pottery from southern England. This new material from northern France highlights the desirability of comparative study with Britain to see how far the close relations first properly established from the metalwork by Jacques Briard (and reinforced by the recent finds at Salcombe) are reflected by the pottery.

Prehistoric Society members interested in APRAB, which publishes a Bulletin, organises meetings – a conference on the Bronze/Iron Age transition will be held in Rouen in November 2005 - and has a Blog ( should contact one of the editors, Marc Talon (

Brendan O’Connor,

Review Submitted: March 2005

The views expressed in this review are not necessarily those of the Society or the Reviews Editor.

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