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Atlantic Europe in the

First Millennium BC
Crossing the Divide

Edited by
TOM MOORE AND XOSÉ-LOIS ARMADA

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Contents

List of figures xi
List of tables xxiii
List of contributors xxv

Part I Crossing the Divide


1. Crossing the Divide: Opening a Dialogue on Approaches to
Western European First Millennium BC Studies 3
Tom Moore and Xosé-Lois Armada

Part II Landscape Studies


2. Settlement and Landscape in Iron Age Europe:
Archaeological Mainstreams and Minorities 81
Gonzalo Ruiz Zapatero
3. Historical Ecology: Using What Works to Cross the Divide 109
William J. Meyer and Carole L. Crumley
4. Stelae Iconography and Landscape in South-west Iberia 135
Sebastián Celestino Pérez, Victorino Mayoral Herrera,
José Ángel Salgado Carmona, and Rebeca Cazorla Martín
5. Landscape Dynamics, Political Processes, and Social Strategies
in the Eastern Iberian Iron Age 153
Ignacio Grau Mira
6. A Re-examination of Three Wessex-type Sites: Little Woodbury,
Gussage All Saints, and Winnall Down 171
Oliver Davis
7. Landscape in the Late Iron Age of Northwest Portugal 187
Francisco Sande Lemos, Gonçalo Cruz, João Fonte, and Joana Valdez
8. La Tène and Early Gallo-Roman Settlement in Central Gaul:
An Examination of the Boundary between the Aedui, Lingoni,
and Senoni (Northern Burgundy, France) 205
Pierre Nouvel

Part III The Social Modelling of Late Bronze


Age and Iron Age Societies
9. ‘Reconstructing Iron Age Society’ Revisited 223
John Collis
10. How Did British Middle and Late Pre-Roman Iron
Age Societies Work (if they did)? 242
J. D. Hill
viii Contents

11. Social Inequality during the Iron Age: Interpretation Models 264
Inés Sastre
12. Iron Age Societies against the State: An Account of the
Emergence of the Iron Age in North-western Iberia 285
Francisco Javier González García, César Parcero-Oubiña,
and Xurxo Ayán Vila
13. Shifting Centres of Power and Changing Elite Symbolism in the
Scheldt Fluvial Basin during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age 302
Guy De Mulder and Jean Bourgeois
14. Examples of Social Modelling in the Seine Valley during the
Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age 319
Rebecca Peake, Régis Issenmann, and Valérie Delattre
15. Becoming Welsh: Modelling First Millennium BC Societies in
Wales and the Celtic Context 336
Raimund Karl
16. Person, Family, and Community: The Social Structure of Iron
Age Societies Seen through the Organization of their
Housing in North-western Europe 358
Dimitri Mathiot
17. Approaching Sex and Status in Iron Age Britain with Reference
to the Nearer Continent 375
Rachel Pope and Ian Ralston

Part IV Continuity and Change


18. Approaches to Metalwork: The Role of Technology in
Tradition, Innovation, and Cultural Change 417
Barbara R. Armbruster
19. The Problem of Continuity: Reassessing the Shape of the
British Iron Age Sequence 439
John C. Barrett, Mark Bowden, and David McOmish
20. Iron Age Ireland: Continuity, Change, and Identity 449
Katharina Becker
21. Exploring Status and Identity in Later Iron Age Britain:
Reinterpreting Mirror Burials 468
Jody Joy
22. Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain): Archaeometry,
Craft Technologies, and Social Interpretation 488
Jesús F. Jordá Pardo, Carlos Marín Suárez, and Javier García-Guinea
23. Changing to Remain the Same: The Southern Iberian
Peninsula between the Third and the First Centuries BC 506
Alicia Jiménez
Contents ix

Part V Rhythms of Life and Death


24. Crossing the Divide in the First Millennium BC: A Study into
the Cultural Biographies of Boats 521
Robert Van de Noort
25. The Warrior Stelae of the Iberian South-west: Symbols of
Power in Ancestral Landscapes 534
Leonardo García Sanjuán
26. Funerary Expression and Ideology in the Cogotas Culture
Settlements in the Northern Meseta of the Iberian Peninsula 558
Miguel Ángel Arnáiz Alonso and Juan Montero Gutiérrez
27. Warriors and Heroes from the North-east of Iberia: A View
from the Funerary Contexts 575
Raimon Graells Fabregat
28. Headhunting and Social Power in Iron Age Europe 590
Ian Armit
29. The Ritual Representation of the Body during the Late
Iron Age in Northern France 608
Valérie Delattre

Part VI Exploring European Research Traditions


30. Iron Age Knowledge: Pre-Roman Peoples and Myths of Origin 617
Richard Hingley
31. Exploring Late Iron Age Settlement in Britain and the Near
Continent: Reading Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire and Examining the Significance of
Landscape, Place, and Water in Settlement Studies 638
Adam Rogers
32. The ‘Introduction to Ethnicity Syndrome’ in Proto-historical
Archaeology 656
Guillermo-Sven Reher Díez
33. Boundaries, Status, and Conflict: An Exploration of
Iron Age Research in the Twentieth Century 668
Niall Sharples

Index 683
22
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern
Spain): Archaeometry, Craft Technologies,
and Social Interpretation
Jesús F. Jordá Pardo, Carlos Marín Suárez, and
Javier García-Guinea

1 IN T RO D U C T I O N

San Chuis hillfort was discovered between 1952 and 1955 with the first systematic
archaeological excavations undertaken by Professor Francisco Jordá Cerdá in
1962–3 and again in 1979–86. Subsequently, a large number of papers on San
Chuis hillfort were published: Cuesta et al. 1996; García and Jordá 1997; García
et al. 2000; Flor et al. 2003; Jordá Cerdá 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990; Jordá Cerdá et al.
1989; Jordá Pardo 1990, 2001; Jordá Pardo and García 1999, 2007; Jordá Pardo,
Mestres Torres, and García Martínez 2002; Manzano 1986–7; Marín 2007; Marín
and Jordá 2007. In this chapter we re-examine the site and present the results of an
interdisciplinary study undertaken by a team of different specialists, including
geoarchaeologists, archaeologists, and geologists from three different research
institutions in Spain. The aims of this chapter are to present, first, the results of
the archaeometrical research undertaken in recent years (including geophysical
prospection, radiocarbon analysis and physical-chemical characterization of the
metallic materials); secondly, the analysis of the pottery of San Chuis hillfort using
a methodology based on Technological Operative Chains (TOC); thirdly, to
present the first typological sequence of pottery for western Asturias (from the
early and later Iron Ages and Roman period); and finally, to present our social
interpretations of certain handmade technologies.

2 D ES C RI PT I O N O F S A N C H U I S H I L L F O R T

San Chuis hillfort1 (San Martín de Beduledo village, Allande council) is located in
western Asturias (northern Spain) (Figure 22.1.1), 35 km from the Cantabrian

1
We follow the traditional labelling of San Chuis in accordance with most published papers, in spite
of the orthographical rules proposed by the Asturias Language Academy for the western Asturian
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 489

Figure 22.1. San Chuis hillfort: 1. Geographical location; 2. Topographic map of the hill
where the settlement is; 3. Schematic map of the excavated area of San Chuis hillfort with
indication of the different architectonical structures.

coast. It is located at 740–780 m above sea level on the boundary of a small


mountain range, outlined by two small rivers, in the western area of the Cantab-
rian Mountain Range. The architectural remains spread along an area of circa 2.8
ha, sub-triangularly shaped, with a major axis following a north–south orientation
(Figure 22.1.2).

dialect. A correct written labelling should be San Lluis (phonetically San Chuis), as it is the case for the
version of the Asturian anthroponomy Lluis and the Castillian Luis.
490 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

Consistent with castros’ topographical positions, on top of a hill, the San Chuis
hillfort exhibits excellent natural protection (Figure 22.1.2). In addition, it was
fortified with a complex defensive system encircling the living area. The north,
east, and west sides exhibit very steep slopes combined with three interlinked
ditches completing a perfect isolation of these three sectors. In the eastern part,
there existed a primary ditch outlining an external hillfort, while the southern
slope is more easily reached since it is the topographical link between the hill and
the closest range mountain. It is protected by five successive ramparts associated
with parapets and the full system is enclosed by a defensive tower. The entire
hillfort perimeter is surrounded by a wall of modules composed, in the northern
part, by a wall 2 m thick; in the north-eastern sector the wall thickness increases
up to 4 m, whilst on the eastern side it is 8 m thick, comprising a frontal bastion
protecting the entrance area. The only entrance to the monument is composed of
steps being sealed by a very large wall; on the opposite side, which exhibits a
threshold carved space suggesting the former employment of a movable gateway.
From an urban point of view, the excavated area of the hillfort suggests two
well-differentiated zones displaying different architectural structures (Figure
22.1.3), namely the lower and upper quarters. The lower quarter, located in the
north-eastern area, is characterized by numerous circular structures with irregular
walls constructed in stone, bonded with mud. In the upper quarter, located on the
hillfort’s apex, rectangular structures are more abundant than the circular houses
seen below. In this case, the stone building materials include sandstone and
porphyritic blocks. Concerning the roofing remains, only postholes in the internal
corners of one rectangle structure, together with many slab slates arranged parallel
to the outer wall, suggest that these were probably used as weights on roofs made
from organic material. The whole complex, including walls and streets, is oriented
along the north–south and east–west axis. In both areas it is possible to observe
the overlapping of rectilinear walls and structures over the circular constructions;
observation allows us to delimit different chronological and structural periods in
the archaeological record of the hillfort.
The archaeological excavations in the lower quarter revealed fifteen
circular structures and only one rectangular construction, which overlapped
two circular structures (structure 6). Two additional refurbishments are visible
in the circular structures as new linear walls created complex structures with
several rooms. In the upper quarter of the site four additional circular structures
can be observed, one of which was truncated during the construction of the
rectangular structures whilst two others were modified with new linear walls.
It is interesting to note a complex macrostructure to this area composed of
eight square sub-structures which may perhaps represent a house surrounding a
courtyard (structure 15). Another important architectural feature can be seen in
the southern part of the lower quarter, in the middle of the slope; it is a circular
room with a later rectangular structure, split into two rooms, added in front of the
original entrance (structure 12). The floor of the circular room is entirely covered
by large slate slabs, and in the centre of the room was found: (i) a seat surrounding
a hearth of tegulae and slate stones outlined by elongated blocks of slate stone,
(ii) a slate seat attached to the wall, (iii) in the northern part of the room, a stone
with a basin carved, which was placed in the ground at the same level as the other
slate slabs. The ‘high’ or upper quarter of the site has two magnificent associated
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 491

rooms with the façades made in sandstone and porphyritic blocks perfectly
squared and carved; the corners of the main façades are circular-shaped supported
on angular bases.

3 A RC H A E O M E T R Y

On the basis of the physical samples provided by the archaeological excavations


undertaken by Dr Francisco Jordá Cerdá at San Chuis hillfort, subsequent
archaeometrical research has been carried out, following three different research
strategies: (i) geophysical prospection, (ii) chronological analysis by radiocarbon,
(iii) physical-chemical characterization of the metallic materials.

3.1 Geo-radar geophysical prospection

In the summer of 2001 we undertook geophysical prospection using geo-radar


within San Chuis hillfort2 to outline buried structures and identify the entire
perimeter wall around the hillfort and any stone structures located in the area not
yet excavated. In the Asturias region this methodology has been successfully
employed at the Roman site of Las Murias (Doriga, Salas) (Estrada 2007). Other
geophysical techniques such as resistivity (geo-electrical) survey have also been
used at the hillforts of La Campa Torres (Gijón) (Maya and Cuesta 2001) and
Llagú (Oviedo) (Arlandi Rodríguez, Bernárdez Gómez, and Guisado de Monti
2002). The aim of this work was a careful exploration by geo-radar of the
subsurface of the unexcavated areas enclosed within the hillfort walls in an
attempt to reveal archaeological anomalies, such as walls or trenches. Examination
of the localization, interpretation, and cartography of the geo-radar anomalies
provided significant information on the extension and nature of buried archaeo-
logical remains. This technique provides a new predictive and interpretative
model of the situation, development, and form of the stone structures which
will be excavated.
Geo-radar profiles were carried out with an SIR–10B of Geophysical Survey
Systems Inc. (GSSI) using antennas able to achieve different maximum explora-
tion depths of 1.5, 9, and 30 m. The unexcavated zone was examined in three
different sectors: sector I (‘high quarter’), sector II (‘low quarter’), and sector III
(slope). In the first two cases, the exploration grid was established as of 3.5 m  3.5
m, with seventeen longitudinal profiles and fourteen transversal profiles in the
‘high quarter’ and seven longitudinal profiles and eighteen transversal profiles in
the ‘low quarter’. In sector III, four radial profiles were defined from the highest
point. A total of 2,382 m were analysed. From an archaeological point of view the
following conclusions can be made:

2
The geophysical prospection by geo-radar was performed by Avelino Tirado Alonso and José Luis
Fernández, technicians of AITEMIN (Technological Centre of the Association for the Research and
Industrial Development of Natural Resources) under the supervision of Prof. Dr José Carrasco Galán of
the High School of Mining Engineering of Madrid.
492 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

 The maximum exploration depth achieved was 2.14 m; reaching the under-
lying rock in all the profiles studied.
 The main types of anomalies detected, together with their possible interpre-
tation from the geo-radar profiles, were wall remains, collapsed walls, debris
accumulation, circular structures, and whole sections of the main wall
including their different elements (internal fence, intermediate filling, and
external barrier). All the detected anomalies were outlined in three topo-
graphical maps at a scale of 1:250.

3.2 Radiocarbon and chronology

Based on the ten years of examination of the hillfort’s archaeology, Professor Jordá
Cerdá published a couple of articles (Jordá Cerdá 1984: 11; 1985: 80), in which he
strongly suggested pre-Roman occupation at the San Chuis hillfort was responsi-
ble for the initial settlement and urban development of the site. This hypothesis
was anomalous in Asturian archaeological research at that time, with the majority
of interpretations concerning the development of hillforts in northern areas of
Spain proposing a connection with the Roman arrival at the end of the first
century bc (Marín 2005: 113–21). On the basis of this hypothesis, we focused
our research on obtaining additional absolute archaeological dating to obtaining
more refined dates for San Chuis hillfort, and as such ordered new radiocarbon
dating with the following results.
Three different sets of samples from San Chuis were sent to the Radiocarbon
Dating Laboratory of Barcelona University (Spain) from 1990, 1992, and 2001.
These sets of samples, deriving from different stratigraphic and archaeological
contexts, were collected by Jordá Cerdá (1979–86) and by the author, Jordá Pardo
(2001), during further fieldwork. All samples come from clearly identifiable
stratigraphic contexts. In 1990, the samples’ surprising result was a relatively
early date for the lower specimens, representing an interesting novelty for Astur-
ian hillfort studies. In order to verify this dating, in 1992 and 2001 we performed
radiocarbon-dating analyses on two new specimens from these early materials, the
results confirming the initial dates. Both dating analyses were published, together
with other radiocarbon dates from additional Asturian hillforts in a pioneering
work on these issues (Cuesta et al. 1996; Jordá Pardo, Mestres Torres, and García
Martínez 2002). Finally, a recent study of these archaeological specimens, per-
formed by Carlos Marín Suárez, allowed the detection of inlaid coal within iron
slag which was dated by Beta Analytic Inc. (Miami, Florida) providing new dating
evidence which was in agreement with the former dates. Therefore, we can now
provide eight 14C dates which provide a wide sequence, ranging from the first Iron
Age to the final Roman colonization of the hillfort.
To perform the chronological analyses we have calibrated the 14C date at 2 
(95 per cent probability) by the curve CalPal 2007 Hulu, included in the CalPal
software (Version March 2007) (Weninger, Jöris, and Danzeglocke 2007) (Table
22.1). Figure 22.2 displays the accumulated probability curves obtained from the
calibration of the radiocarbon dates grouped by their chronostratigraphical posi-
tion, showing its spatial and stratigraphic context and the related materials.
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 493
Table 22.1. San Chuis hillfort: calibrated 14C dates at 2  (95% of probability) using the
CalPal 2007 Hulu curve, included in the CalPal software (Version March 2007) (Weninger
et al. 2007).
San Chuis hill fort. Calibrated 14C dates

Laboratory codes 14
C dates Calibrated dates 2  (95% probability)

cal bc/ad Cal BP (0 = ad 1950)

UBAR-217 1800 140 BP 110 cal. bc–530 cal. ad 2060–1420 cal. BP


UBAR-216 2050  50 BP 210 cal. bc–70 cal. ad 2160–1880 cal. BP
UBAR-350 2150  60 BP 440 cal. bc–0 cal. ad 2390–1950 cal. BP
UBAR-681 2200  60 BP 430–110 cal. bc 2380–2060 cal. BP
BETA-224527 2270  40 BP 460–180 cal. bc 2410–2130 cal. BP
UBAR-682 2355  50 BP 600–320 cal. bc 2550–2270 cal. BP
UBAR-218 2360  60 BP 730–290 cal. bc 2680–2240 cal. BP
UBAR-351 2600  60 BP 920–520 cal. bc 2870–2470 cal. BP

Figure 22.2. Accumulated probability curves obtained from the calibration of the radio-
carbon dates of San Chuis grouped by their chronostratigraphical position, showing its
spatial and stratigraphic context and the linked materials.

Taking into account (i) analyses of the calibrated 14C dates, (ii) structures over-
lapping, (iii) stratigraphy, and (iv) recovered materials, we can define three main
phases to the complex which can clearly be placed within a chronological
sequence which covers a millennium. These are as follows:
 The oldest human occupation of the hillfort was a settlement located in the
‘high’ or upper quarter (namely the hillfort acropolis) represented by remains
of a timber structure situated on bedrock, containing coal, elder seeds, and
ceramic samples of the first (early) Iron Age TOC. These organic remains
provided the hillfort’s earliest dates (UBAR-351 2.600  60 BP), which
calibrated at the maximum probability provides a range of 920–520 cal bc.
494 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

This absolute date was performed on a sample taken from the lower layer
(Layer VI) of the stratigraphic sequence inside an early circular structure in the
upper quarter (structure 16, square C-21, fieldwork 1981). This layer com-
prises the lower part of the base of the structure which is directly supported
by the bedrock. The analysed sample was collected in a deposit of seeds located
in the lowest Layer VI (labelled Layer VI-b, Marín and Jordá 2007) in a little
hollow delimited by bedrock and slate slabs and located approximately at
778.50 m o.s.l., at 55 cm below the wall foundations of the superimposed
circular structure. This Layer VI-b is linked to several postholes of a former
timber structure which, from a stratigraphic point of view, is below the wall
foundations of the circular structure and was partially modified by the later
Roman intrusions associated with later superimposed rectangular structures.
This occupation can be correlated with Phases Ib and Ic of the northern and
north-western hillforts (825/800–400 cal bc) (González Ruibal 2006–7: 67;
Marín forthcoming), which also support our previous dating.
 The next occupation was characterized by the developing of stone circular
structures in both hillfort quarters, related to the use of pottery dating to
the second (later) Iron Age TOC and remains of metallurgical activity. The
combination of radiometric dating probabilities offers a time period for this
occupation ranging between 710 and 130 cal bc. Assuming that the dates
with synchronous defects belong to this occupation, this time span could
be refined to 670–0 cal bc. For this period, the calibrated dates fall within
with the plateau in the radiocarbon calibration curve (800–400 cal bc:
Rubinos and Alonso 2002). Both date ranges display a good correlation
with the probabilities of dating elsewhere: Llagu hillfort dates (Oviedo,
Asturias) span 550–50 cal bc (Rubinos and Alonso 2002). This period could
be associated with Phase II (400–125/100 cal bc) and IIIa (125–30 cal bc)
(González Ruibal 2006–7: 68).
 The third occupation period, associated with the Roman period, is charac-
terized by the construction of quadrangular structures of stone, more devel-
oped in the high, upper quarter, in both types, as well as new constructions
and refurbishments of the earlier circular structures. From this colonization
period we have collected pre-Roman TOC pottery, Terra Sigillata Hispanica
(TSH), tegulae, Roman coarsewares and iron slag. Unfortunately, for this
period of occupation we have no radiocarbon dates, yet this phase probably
began in the era of change, ending between 110 cal bc and 530 cal ad indicated
by the most well-known recent date from the north-western Iberian peninsula
(González Ruibal 2006–7: 68) which could be correlated with Phases IIIb (30
cal bc–20 cal ad) and IIIc (20 cal ad–50/75 cal ad). In addition, in
the Cantabrian area, it is possible to incorporate a Phase IIId (50/75 cal
ad–200 cal ad) to add together all the Roman phases of the hillforts.

3.3 Physical-chemical characterization of metallic materials

The discovery of charcoal fragments included in the iron slag allows us to apply
AMS 14C radiocarbon dating. Furthermore, we conducted additional laboratory
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 495

driven experiments and physical-chemical characterization of the host slag to


increase our knowledge of iron casting and smelting processes during the second
Iron Age. This utilized the following techniques: (i) structural analyses by X-ray
diffraction (XRD) to identify inorganic phases from both origins, natural (e.g.
quartz, illite, feldspar, chlorite, etc.) and mineral phases formed during the
archaeological heating of iron-slags (e.g. hematite, anortite, gehlenite, wuestite,
or fayalite); and (ii) chemical analyses by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF)
and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) with an energy disper-
sive X-ray probe (EDX) to measure the chemical composition corresponding to

Figure 22.3. Iron slag from San Chuis hillfort: 1. Visual aspect; 2. Diffractogram (XRD)
that shows the inorganic phases composition of the slag; 3. Photomicrography by ESEM-
EDX microscope with indication of the mineral phases; 4. Chemical composition of the slag
by energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analyses; 5. Results of chemical analyses obtained by XRF
of the dated iron slag.
496 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

each of the phases. In this case, operating under optical microscopy, the backscat-
tering operating mode is a useful tool since it provides images of accessorial
phases in different tones of the grey-scale, classified in accordance with their
atomic numbers. Afterwards, the EDX probe allowed us to perform spot chemical
analyses of these minority phases. The mineralogical composition of powdered
iron slags were obtained by XRD using a Philips-PW 1830 X-ray diffractometer
with cathode Cu KÆ = 1.54051, scanning from 3º to 65º 2Ł and digital recording
Philips PW 1710. The equipment control and the diffractogram profiles studies
were managed with the Spanish software XPowder. The program provides a fast
semi-quantitative identification of samples (Martín-Ramos 2004).
In the main part of the iron slag sample (Figure 22.3.1) we estimated the
following average phases composition: fayalite (Fe2SiO4), 45%; wuestite (FeO),
30%; galaxite (Fe++Al+++2O4), 15%; pyrrhotite (FeS), 5%; and illite, 5% (Figure
22.3.2). Concerning the chemical analyses obtained by XRF (Figure 22.3.5) we
observed a high content in Fe2O3 (70.03%), minor presence of Al2O3 (4.33%),
and high proportion of SiO2 (21.18%) together with P2O5 (2.5%). Under the
ESEM-EDX microscope we detected the same inorganic phases, from the chemi-
cal point of view, together with their crystallographic shapes and texture distribu-
tions (Figure 22.3.3). The EDX probe also detected important amounts of iron and
silicon with minor elements of aluminium, titanium, magnesium, phosphor and
calcium (Figure 22.3.4). The characteristic dendritic textures exhibited by the
wuestite (FeO) crystals under the ESEM provide interesting archaeological infor-
mation since they are formed by quenching (i.e. the fast cooling of iron). The same
existence of ferrous oxide (FeO) implies the use of charcoal in the metallurgical
process.

4 C RA F T T E C H N O L O G I E S A N D S O C I A L I N T E R P RE T A T I ON

The information provided by the fieldwork performed in San Chuis hillfort is


significant for the following reasons: (i) the provision of suggested phases for the
hillforts of the Cantabrian area, based on radiocarbon dating; (ii) the collection of
well-documented samples, allowing the distinction of different processes of activ-
ity throughout a millennium of occupation with information regarding periods of
transition as well as from periods of cultural stability. We will focus on the three
main technologies present: architecture, pottery, and metallurgy.

4.1 Architecture

After the transitional period in the ninth–eighth centuries cal bc (late Bronze
Age), the hillforts of the Cantabrian area witnessed the appearance of a new
settlement system. It was characterized by groups occupying the top of hills,
which also represented significant natural monuments and important visual
references in the landscape (Ayán 2005). This process happened later in compari-
son with the Duero Basin or southern Galicia and northern Portugal, where it
is possible to see similar features appearing after 1000 cal bc. Moreover, the
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 497

emergence of these first stable population nuclei, or hillforts, ended the previous
residential mobility pattern (not quite transhumance) which moved cattle twice
yearly, looking for pasture and/or better climatic conditions. These social changes
could have been important enough to match this process at the beginning of the
Iron Age in the northern Iberian peninsula, and, in any case, the cultural links
with the previous period are very clear. These transformations can be archaeolog-
ically detected by the continuation of the technological traditions during the
Phases Ib and Ic which are similar to those of Phase Ia, particularly pottery and
metallurgy. Likewise the architectural features of Phases Ib and Ic are also linked
with the previous phase as they seem to demonstrate the broad community of
communal structures of Chao Samartín and Pendia hillforts, in which there
appeared metallic objects such as palstave axes and rings (Villa 2002a, 2002b;
Maya 1987–8: 71). This is the context in which we should understand the
previously mentioned layer VI-b (grids C-21 and D-21) which again confirms
that the first phase of the western Cantabrian hillforts was characterized by
timber-house structures (i.e. wooden post interlaced with timbers and mudstone),
a system inherited from the Bronze Age. The roofs of these structures, as in the
second Iron Age and the Roman period (Phases II and III), were also made of
organic materials. In the event that the natural defences of these early settlements
needed to be reinforced they also used timber structures, as can be observed in the
thick wooden barrier at the nearby Chao Samartín hillfort (Villa and Cabo 2003),
although in the case of San Chuis the existence of a similar structure cannot yet
been confirmed.
Much more obvious was the urban reorganization of San Chuis hillfort during
Phases II and III, as revealed by geophysical methods. Many inhabited hillforts of
the western Cantabrian area, between the sixth and fourth centuries cal bc,
experienced significant expansions of the building space, changes to stone struc-
tures, and the erection of new thick stone walls, the module-walls being the most
frequent system observed in this area. In the case of San Chuis hillfort, we infer
that the initial colonization of the hill’s apex, characterized by huts and possible
timber walls, changed during the second Iron Age to expand the settlement
throughout the ‘low quarter’ following the stone-wall construction and the level-
ling of the ground surface. This new ‘village’, characterized by circular stoned
structures and conical thatched roofs, was constructed in both the ‘low’ and ‘high
quarters’ of the site (Marín 2007).
Architectural heritage, as performed by pre-industrial groups, is probably the
technology which best encapsulates ancient social meaning (e.g. identity, power,
the cosmological order) (González Ruibal 2003). This material culture has the
greatest role in shaping habitus and the identity of each group (Bourdieu 1997), as
it encloses a more permanent message, in comparison to orally transmitted myths,
since it is material, durable, and always active. Homes are fixed things that keep
alive the habitus; they are the framework of the social and cultural development of
the new individual and collective identities (Mañana, Blanco, and Ayán 2002: 17;
González Ruibal 2003: 220–9). The stratigraphic nature of the building space,
namely its historical essence, temporarily describes the way in which different
social orders occur over time in each context and expresses how these social
orders articulate hegemonic practices that domesticate essential social differences
over time. The perceived built space becomes a palimpsest of historical social
498 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

realities in which we see the sutures between successive joints of hegemonic


discourses that shape the principles of cultural practices (Falquina, Marín, and
Rolland 2006).
The large houses and communal spaces surrounded by a fence and/or natural
defences of the early hillforts reveal the social performances characterized by the
egalitarian ethos, in peasant communities where relational identity prevails, in
both men and women. In addition, some individuals could certainly rise from the
accumulation of social, rather than economic, capital. The transition to the second
Iron Age (Phase II) marked the beginning of the end of the egalitarian ethos
within each village. The monumental walls that now surrounded the hillforts
probably continued reinforcing the sense of peasant community, but this com-
munity now had a larger number of members. In Phase II most of the hillforts
increased in size and at the same time many other new hillforts were created.
Meanwhile, the hillforts were arranged into clearly defined occupation units
(OU). Probably at San Chuis hillfort the structures 1, 2, and 11 composed an
independent OU. Later, the Roman refurbishment added a new quadrangular
structure (structure 6), changing this corner of the settlement. The structures 3, 4,
and 5A–5B are more clear, forming an OU composed by a circular structure with
a fireplace (3), another circular structure with bench and without a fireplace
(4) (with both doors facing each other), and a circular mill in the space between
them. The structure 5B probably is a foundation stone of a barn supported by posts
since its walls have no inner side but instead form a homogeneous platform. The
abundant ceramic-container remains found in this area supports this hypothesis.
The wall 5A is associated with the storage area but it could also be the preparation of
a working area (Marín 2007: 156–7). This allows us to trace zones of different
activities, such as those clearly linked to maintenance activities (sensu Hernando
2006: 218) undertaken by women, such as food processing, which would be carried
out with the circular mill located in the central area of the occupation unit, or
cooking in the fireplace of structure 3. We have not been able to document the place
where other activities were carried out, such as female handicrafts (e.g. pottery and
textiles), but a spindle whorl appeared in the 5A wall suggesting that the barn area
was also used as a textile workplace.
We have also documented construction refurbishments in different OU. A clear
example is the pre-Roman refurbishments performed in structures 4 and 5A over
structure 5B. More clear was the whole refurbishment of structure 9, also in pre-
Roman times, with straight walls linking two existing circular structures, and
therefore privatizing spaces that previously were public or semi-public. In addi-
tion, they added some stairs at the door access having a decorated doorway and a
cut head (‘tête coupé’). All this suggests the interest of family groups in continuing
to live in the same places where their ancestors lived long before. Hence the village
was the spatial organization of social relations; and below, the house was the key
element in the organization of these communities providing the material reference
for the history, biography, and identity of the family, which have been defined as
‘house societies’ (González Ruibal 2006–7: 410–18, following Lévi-Strauss).
The apparent social isonomy was gradually broken down in the second Iron
Age as evidenced by the increasing morphological differences between OUs. This
process accelerated after the Roman conquest (Phases IIIb, c, and d) and the
gradual assimilation by the indigenous societies of Roman cultural patterns.
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 499

During the first two centuries of the first millennium ad, the indigenous people
reformed their homes under the influence of Roman cultural parameters, as the
quadrangular structure 6 which partially catches a unit of pre-Roman occupation
suggests and, more clearly, the building of two squared rooms next to the pre-
Roman circular structure 12, developing an occupation unit that assimilates
structures of previously occupied units (structure 13). The profound social
changes in both phases, referring to hierarchy and gender and caused by the
Roman conquest, were dissimilarly accepted by the different families, for example
in both the OU of the structures 12 and 6, where the quadrangular Roman plans
are assumed. They were in use until the hillfort’s final phase (second century ad),
as well as those defined by the structure of 9 or structures 3, 4, and 5A–B, where
the Roman architectural models are not observed.
The process of Romanization generated profound ontological changes among
the communities of the Cantabrian area. In this case, as also in the changes
produced by capitalism in the architecture of Spanish traditional peasant society
(Falquina 2005; González Ruibal 2003), we observe how ‘dis-identification’ and
‘re-identification’ took place through the materialization of a hegemonic discourse
and a dominant ideology in the house. This cultural change was lived in different
ways by the different social agents, according to their grade of social power, and,
above all, in relation to their gender. This process of Romanization not only meant
the end of the egalitarian indigenous ethos but it coincided with an important loss
of social protagonism by women. It is interesting to note the great reform
produced in the ‘high quarter’ during the high-imperial period; this quarter
could be occupied by officials and/or military Romans as a physical representation
of Roman power, located in the higher part of the town. This upper position of the
structures inhabited by Roman staff has also been noted in the domus with
columns at Chao Samartín hillfort (Villa 2005) or in the quadrangular structure
from the acropolis at Coaña hillfort, which also impacted on existing circular
structures (Maya 1987–8).

4.2 Pottery

Recent research on San Chuis hillfort (Marín 2007; Marín and Jordá 2007) has
determined the first pottery typology for the western Cantabrian area, namely
northern Asturias and León (Figure 22.4), using the methodology of technological
operative chains (TOC) (van der Leeuw 1993). This technique overcomes the
frequent confusion between pre-Roman pottery and Conventus Lucense Roman
common pottery. San Chuis hillfort provides additional interesting innovations
for this area such as ceramic materials of the Phases Ib and Ic (Cantabrian first
Iron Age). These are some body sherds and two curved everted rims collected
from the Layer VI-b (grids C-21 and D-21), associated with the timber huts.
The traditional confusion observed between both hillfort TOCs concerning
pre-Roman pottery versus Roman common pottery derives from the poor typo-
logical studies in Spanish traditional historiography, in which decorated objects
took priority over the undecorated and which considered only the final forms of
ceramic items without appreciating the rest of the technological decisions
involved, from the raw-material collection to the final object (i.e. discard,
500 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

Figure 22.4. Pottery and metallic objects from San Chuis hillfort: 1. Examples of pre-
Roman TOC, when pots and large liquid containers predominate; 2. Examples of common
pottery from the Roman TOC, with continuity of some characteristics from the pre-Roman
pottery, such as in the decoration by means of burnished lines, but distinguished by a
diversity in the functionality of vessels, denoting changes in the cooking practices and
comensality; 3. Examples of TSH, that appears in almost all the hillfort structures, suggest-
ing we need to revisit the frequent definition of this as luxury pottery and relate their
appearance more to changes in practices of food consumption with many of them appar-
ently indicating use by the individual; 4. Thin-walled vessel almost certainly used by the
individual for wine consumption, and a clear sign of Romanization; 5 and 6. Beltplates;
7. Omega fibula; 8. Pendant.

deposition, and reuse). Taking into account only the final forms and decoration
we appreciate how both TOCs (namely, pre-Roman and common Roman) are
similarly flat-bottomed pots with globular body and curved everted rim, as well as
the outer decoration of both vertical and horizontal polished lines. These common
factors erroneously suggest only one technological tradition. Nevertheless, the
analyses of the specific technological decisions allow us to appreciate both these
TOCs.
In the second Iron Age, the San Chuis pottery displays evidence of mixed
firings, with scarce selection of claystone and thick tempers. Shapes become more
complex with respect to the first Iron Age since the bases are still mostly flat but
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 501

complex profiles appear, for example folded necks and multiple rims. The rota-
tions were still slow but faster, making the rim. The bases and vessel bodies up to
the neck were made by the technique of coiling. The pieces were not made at once
but the rim was joined later to the body. In the pre-Roman TOCs it can be
observed that the most frequent surfaces finish is a polishing with horizontal lines
formed from rotation, which should not be confused with a decoration of polished
lines, as long vertical or oblique. Horizontal polished surfaces are found in all the
San Chuis hillfort ceramics but the ceramic decorated with vertical or oblique
lines only was found in pots with perforated lobes to be hung from the fireplace,
and straight-neck jars probably used for liquid storage. It is interesting to note that
ceramics were only decorated if they were to be used in activities which can be
suggested as typically female: cooking food or transporting water. This may
represent a possibly symbolic claim by women for such maintenance activities
and also of those craft technologies which are typically feminine.
Stamping is the other motif present in the pre-Roman TOC (Figure 22.5). It was
only detected in three cases (one of which was a complete example), of which the
two more complex compositions were pieces from clearly pre-Roman strata. All of
these were within the lower levels outside of structures 2 and 4. We suggest that
these stamps are likely to be decorations with ritual purposes for this Cantabrian
area. Stamped ceramic samples were collected from a deposit outside houses, with
possible apotropaic or foundation roles; this data reinforces the growing concept
of the importance of the domestic role of the village, starting at the beginning of
Phase II.
For the Roman period, we appreciate a gradual end of the indigenous pottery
made in the hillfort together with an increase in imported ceramics, such as the
common Roman wares from Lucus Augusti (Lugo), capital of the Conventus
Lucense, as well as the TSH from the La Rioja pottery centres, such as Tritium,
and thin-walled ceramics from the Melgar de Tera (Zamora) pottery centre. These
new products are found in all social structures and certainly mean the loss of

1 2 3

0 5 10

Figure 22.5. Stamped pottery of pre-Roman TOC from San Chuis hillfort: 1. Stamped
fragment with triangles filled with points, moulding with vertical cuts and reclined SSS
lines, from outdoor foundation of structure 4 (layer 4, square F-7); 2. Stamped fragment
with SSS lines and rectangles with internal grid, from outdoor foundation of structure
2 (square E-7); 3. Stamped fragment with concentric circles from outside of structure 5B
(square G-8/H-8). Drawings from Maya (1987–8).
502 Jordá Pardo, Marín Suárez, and García-Guinea

control of the crafts by women and the beginning of the end of local identity based
on the hillfort and its gradual replacement by new Roman identities based on
civitas and conventus. These ceramic samples are combined with those of the pre-
Roman TOC in all structures except in the structure 15, where there are no pre-
Roman features. This evidence supports the idea that this great house was
occupied exclusively by Roman individuals, which can be linked to the early
exploitation of the gold mines in this area. In addition, we have inscriptions on
some of these ceramics referring to the tenants of such housing, as is the case of
Calpurnius, written on the basis of a TSH fragment.

4.3 Metallurgy

Probably the metallurgical production area of the San Chuis hillfort was delimited
by the little walls located in squares B-7, B-8, C-7, and C-8; unfortunately we have
insufficient remains to define correctly this TOC. Besides the information about
the addition of silicated fluxes to the metallic melts points to a complex ferrous
metallurgy (Rovira and Gómez 2001: 382–3). This technological characteristic is
also observed in La Campa Torres hillfort; similarities between both metallurgies
of iron and bronze suggest that they were performed by the same craftsmen
(Fanjul and Marín 2006). In addition, despite the fact that the metallic production
was local to the hillfort, it gives the impression that the technological decisions
defining this TOC were shared by wide areas of the northern peninsula.
In comparison with the Duero Basin and the central Cantabrian zone (Phase I),
the San Chuis data confirms a late assimilation of iron metallurgy in the western
Cantabrian zone (Phase II). The physical character of these metallurgical pro-
ducts, together with the thick north-east defence walls, may be representative of all
the northern and north-western Iberian peninsula. The reasons for this can be
explained better from a symbolic point of view than in terms of functional uses;
the metallic objects collected from the San Chuis hillfort are similar to those from
other Asturian hillforts where ornamental objects for the males (fibulae, belt
hooks, shoulder belt enlistments) (Figure 22.4) emphasize arms or tools, which
could make us believe that the growing importance of metallurgy in the Asturian
hillforts is due more to accumulation of social and symbolic capital by men than
other productive features (Fanjul and Marín 2006).

5 C O N C L U S I ON S

San Chuis hillfort is a key record for evidence of the Asturian Iron Age and
Romanization processes. Recent research performed at San Chuis provides a
better understanding of the excavated area, the collected archaeological materials,
and non-excavated area, studied by geo-radar, which allows us to outline hidden
structures and the entire perimeter wall providing crucial evidence for planning
future excavations. The San Chuis hillfort study includes a complete set of
calibrated radiocarbon dates which allows us to define their occupation phases,
since its founding in the Bronze–Iron Age transition up to its abandonment
Discovering San Chuis Hillfort (Northern Spain) 503

during the second century and early third century ad. In this chapter we have
presented the first radiocarbon dates from a charcoal fragment inside a fragment
of iron slag providing the first direct dating for iron-making processes in the
second Asturian Iron Age. In addition, the characterization analyses of this iron
slag provides additional details of the iron-making such as the use of coal for the
iron mineral reduction. The study of the pottery of San Chuis hill fort using a
methodology based on the TOC, offers new advances in the knowledge of the
archaeological record of the settlement, including the first typological sequence of
hillfort pottery of western Asturias for the first and second Iron Ages and Roman
period, and new interpretations based on the female control of certain handcrafts.
Finally, it should be noted that the phases detected in the hillfort by radiocar-
bon dating have their counterpart materials, especially architectural and ceramic
(and less so, metallurgical), suggesting several possible social scenarios. We
emphasize some historical interpretations linking the growing complexity and
division of the material culture with a growing dissimilarity between families and
between genders. The conclusion of this process was in the Roman phase of the
hillfort and its inclusion within a state system, whose main objective in this area
was the exploitation of the abundant gold mines.

A C KN O W L E D G EM EN T S

This work was supported by the Consejería de Cultura, Comunicación Social y


Turismo del Principado de Asturias (years 1997, 2000, and 2001), Project: ‘In-
vestigaciones Arqueológicas en el Castro de San Chuis (Allande, Asturias): Ulti-
mos trabajos y Memoria Final’. Thanks to Rafael González for the experimental
work with iron slags. We would like to express our gratitude to Víctor Fernández
for his revision of the final version of the manuscript, the two anonymous
reviewers, and Lois Armada and Tom Moore for the editing of this work and
for their contributions to the final version.

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