The Aylesford-Swarling Culture

Source: Cunliffe, B (1974)

In 1890, the discovery of a "Belgic" cemetary at Aylesford was linked to the Marnian peoples of the continent by the site's publisher, A.J.Evans. Evans linked the site with Caesar's comments that the coastal areas of Britain were settled by Belgic invaders from northern Gaul. The excavation of graves around Welwyn, Herts. by Smith in 1912 were thought to confirm these ideas. Then J.P.Bushe-Fox's excavations of the Swarling graves in 1925 established these "invaders" to after 75 B.C. according to the dating of the associated grave goods.

The Aylesford-Swarling culture, as it is now termed, is associated with cremated remains either in or near wooden buckets, in flat graves with wheel-made [not hand-made] pottery and finds of so-called La Tene III metalwork. The graves concentrate in the south-east of England, the territory of the ancient tribes of the Trinovantes, Catuvellauni and Cantii.

According to Cunliffe (1974: p 79), "Welwyn type cremations represent a tradition of aristocratic burial deeply rooted in the formative period of the Aylesford-Swarling culture north of the Thames." It is now thought that this culture developed because of the proximity of Roman trading systems, rather than a wholesale movement of continental peoples. The culture does not appear to have a secure pre-Caesarian phase (Cunliffe, McCready & Thompson 1984: pp 16-17)

The Romano-British Amphora Trade to A.D. 43

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Sources Used

Barry Cunliffe, "Iron Age Communities in Britain" Routledge, London, 1974

Cite this work

McKeown, J., "The Aylesford-Swarling Culture," http://
, 21 February 1999.

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