LITTLE IS KNOWN OF HUMAN OCCUPANCY OF THE REGION DURING THE IRON AGE (800-51 BCE).
Most of the traces found date from the latter part of the period, beginning around 500 BCE, known as the La Tène period. Fortifications such as Ti Château on Hotton looked down over the valleys. Hundreds of stone mounds (known locally as marchets) appear to date from this period : some have been laid over graves, others over places used by the living. A singular feature of the Trou de l'Ambre cave in Éprave makes it a landmark site in Belgian archaeology. At the end of the La Tène period, the remains of at least 55 individuals (adults and children) were deposited there, along with animal skeletons. Examination of the bones has shown that the bodies were subject to unusual treatment : long bones were deliberately broken, and heads were removed. Alongside other clues, these unusual practices support the hypothesis that this might have been a place of worship.
FIG 1 Ti Château hill in Hotton, overlooking the valley of the Ourthe (C. Frébutte © AWaP).
FIG 2 Entrance cleft to the Trou de l'Ambre in Éprave (C. Frébutte © AWaP).
FIG 3 La Tène decorative disc (phalera) found in the bed of the river Lesse at the Trou de Han (G. Deflandre © Domaine des Grottes de Han).