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18 September 2014
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Wetwang: A Chariot Fit for a Queen?

By Mike Loades
Vehicle of war

Image of model chariot
Earlier interpretation of chariot evidence, based on finds from Llyn Cerrig Bach, Anglesey ©
There are also literary descriptions in Roman sources to two-wheeled vehicles being used as normal non-military transport. So the evidence can support a broad interpretation of the word chariot - high performing and warlike at one end of the scale, and rather more like what we might call a finely decorated trap at the other.

These differences in interpretation are not uncommon in archaeology, and as new finds are uncovered the debate will shift in emphasis. Despite the room for doubt there remains considerable evidence to support that the find at Wetwang could well be a chariot. But what did it look like and how did it work?

'... the requirement for the driver to sit throws up a significant design problem.'

The word that Caesar uses to describe these conveyances is essedum. The root of the word implies a sedentary mode and this is confirmed by the few illustrations we have, which show a seated driver and a standing passenger. However, if the Wetwang chariot is to be compared with these military vehicles, the requirement for the driver to sit throws up a significant design problem.

Published: 2005-01-25

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