Beaker Age Bracers in England: Sources, Function and Use

By Woodward, Ann; Hunter, John et al. | Antiquity, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Beaker Age Bracers in England: Sources, Function and Use


Woodward, Ann, Hunter, John, Ixer, Rob, Roe, Fiona, Potts, Philip J., Webb, Peter C., Watson, John S., Jones, Michael C., Antiquity


Introduction

Bracers are thin pieces of fine-grained stone, usually rectangular, and perforated at their narrow ends. The number of perforations present is usually two (one at each end) or four, although in some cases the number reaches 12 or 18. They occur in Early Bronze Age burials in many parts of Europe and are usually considered to be archers' wristguards or 'bracers' (the term adopted here). The stone plate would have been attached to the inner face of the lower arm holding the bow to protect the arm from the rebounding string. Similar devices, usually of leather or plastic, are used in modern archery (Figure 1).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Some early observers viewed these perforated stone plates as ornaments or for purposes other than bracers (e.g. Thurnam 1871: 428-30; Evans 1897: Ch. 19). Ingram (1867) was the first to favour the bracer interpretation, having noted one buried example in situ between the bones of the lower left arm. However, detailed study of British examples was not undertaken until the 1950s and 1960s when Atkinson prepared a preliminary list and typological scheme (see Clarke 1970: 570). This formed the basis for a list of British examples subsequently published by Harbison (1976:28-31). Since then a few individual bracers have been described in detail (e.g. Robertson Mackay 1980; Whittle et al. 1992) but the only overall consideration of the class, such as that undertaken by Sangmeister (1964, 1974) for the European material, has been Harbison's (1976) study of Irish examples.

However, no concerted effort has been made to consider the other British bracers, or the wider archaeological context. This paper is offered as a first step towards such a general synthesis; it evaluates a selected corpus of English and Scottish bracers according to context and morphology, and uses microscopic and analytical techniques. The project represents part of a wider pilot study examining ritual and dress equipment from British Early Bronze Age graves in order to reconsider the significance of burial deposits, particularly with regard to religious acts and ceremonies.

Eighteen bracers were kindly made available from the British Museum (12), the Devizes Museum (5) and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum (1). These were viewed and analysed along with six more from recent unpublished excavations, and two more which had recently been published, giving a total of 26. Key typological and locational aspects of these bracers are summarised in Table 1 (http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/woodward). This sample comprises slightly less than half of the number of b racers currently known from England and Wales (see list in Table 2 at http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/woodward).

Typology and associations

The typology originally devised by Atkinson, which has served the test of time, divides the British bracers into three basic groups: rounded bracers with two perforations (Type A), rectangular examples with two, four or more perforations (Type B), and more complex items (Type C) which are waisted in shape, have four perforations and display a strongly concavo-convex profile. Types B and C are illustrated in Figure 2, and the bracer illustrated in Figure 4b belongs to Type A. There are also subdivisions of these groups (see Tables 1 and 2 at http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/woodward).

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Of the 58 English bracers known, 28 were found in association with other archaeological material (see Table 3 at http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/woodward). Of these groups, 16 included Beakers of known type, and two more were found with 'Drinking Cups': a term used by Colt Hoare (1812) which usually refers to a Beaker vessel. In only one case is any other form of pottery recorded: a Secondary Series Collared Urn found with the bracer from Bowerham Barracks, Lancashire (Longworth 1984:219 and pl.84c). The next most commonly occurring item found with bracers is a bronze (or copper) dagger; these occur with 11 bracers, and always, except in one case (Sittingbourne, Kent) in groups where a Beaker is also present. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beaker Age Bracers in England: Sources, Function and Use
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.