At the time of the Roman invasions, Britain was occupied by around 30 Celtic tribes. Most of that part of England between the Humber in the south and the Tyne in the north was the land of the warlike Brigantes tribe. However, the territory roughly corresponding to the lowland south east of what is now the East Riding, was home to the Parisi, a tribe who had their headquarters at modern Brough on the north bank of the Humber. Across the Humber, the Coritani occupied modern Lincolnshire and eastwards. It seems that the Parisi were more advanced than the Brigantes but less so than the Coritani. The celtic name for Brough was Petuario, meaning fourth. This implies that there may have been at least four tribal centres. The link between the English Parisi and the Gallic branch that occupied the island in the River Seine (later to become the heart of modern Paris and the location of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris) is the subject of much debate. The marshy nature of Holderness may be a clue to the etymology of the name of the tribe, possibly derived from the Gallic par (district) and is (stream, water, etc).
It seems likely that the Parisi and Coritani established a ferry connection across the Humber between modern North Ferriby and South Ferriby. In 1984, a team of archaeologists excavating a glass kiln at Hasholme (near Home on Spalding Moor) found a boat fashioned from a dug out oak log and about 41 feet long. Radio carbon dating showed that the boat originated from a tree cut down around 450 BC. Examination of its cargo showed that it had been carrying rough hewn timber and butchered meat.
The Parisi typically buried their dead in large cemeteries under small barrows surrounded by a rectangular ditch. High ranking individuals were buried with their two wheeled chariots/carts, an unusual procedure for Britain but a feature of the Arras Culture (named after Arras near Market Weighton where two such burials were found in 1815/17) also found in Belgium and northern France. A total of 20 “chariot” burials have been discovered in Britain, all but one in east Yorkshire. A chariot burial was found at Wetwang Slack in 2001. In this case it was the grave of a woman who had died more than 2,500 years ago.
In 2007 and 2008, archaeological work was undertaken by Network Archaeology before the construction of the Easington to Ganstead gas pipeline. This involved a field walking survey of the 32.2km long path of the projected pipeline followed by a geophysical survey and a watching brief on the stripping of the topsoil from the 40m wide pipeline easement. This in turn led to the excavation of 22 potential sites of archaeological interest. Fifteen sites were dated to the Mesolithic period with undisturbed sites being found at Sproatley and Skeffling. The major finds along the route of the pipeline mainly date from the late Iron Age and Roman periods.
In Old Ellerby, there is evidence of an Iron Age village with two large ring ditches and at least four smaller ditches, all of which would probably have surrounded roundhouses.
We are indebted to Mr D Mars & Mrs P Mars for information regarding archaeological work in our area.