UK's best bronze age site dig ends but analysis will continue for years
One winter some 3,000 years ago, a development of highly desirable houses was built on stilts over a tributary of the river Nene in Cambridgeshire, by people whose wealth and lifestyle would still have seemed enviable to medieval peasants. Then six months later it was all over... continues...
Vital clues into how ancient Britons lived thousands of years ago have been unearthed on a bypass site. Among the items uncovered along the A142 between Newmarket and Fordham (Cambridgeshire, England) include skeletons from the Bronze Age and Iron Age, along with a body from Roman times... continues...
"A number of organisations, including Peterborough City Council, Vivacity, the British Museum and The University of Cambridge, are in discussions about how best to display the discoveries found at Must Farm and Flag Fen.
Last January the world’s media was amazed by the archeological dig at Must Farm, near Whittlesey, which saw ancient round houses preserved in the clay. The discovery has been described as ‘the Pompei of the Fens’ because of the way the finds had been preserved, and what they told archeologists about life in the Fens 3,000 years ago. Wooden roundhouses, which were destroyed by a fire thousands of years ago, where uncovered, as were tools, bones and even pots still containing food. Journalists and historians from across the world descended on the Must Farm Quarry to see the operation to recover the finds. A report looking at the possibility of creating a National Bronze Age museum for the city had been prepared in 2014, with the discoveries at Flag Fen being at the heart of the plans - but now the report is being looked at again, to take into account the new discoveries. "
Heritage Lottery grant to restore Robin Hood and Little John
Castor Parish Council has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant to carry out archaeological investigations and restoration of some ancient standing stones in the Nene Valley near Peterborough.
This exciting project – Restoration of Ancient Standing Stones 'Robin Hood' and 'Little John' at Ferry Hill – led by Castor Parish Council, has been given £10,000. The current position of the stones will be established. The two stones will be then lifted and carefully and expertly reset. Improvement works to allow public access and viewing will then be carried out. Improvements will include an all-access pathway to an area immediately adjacent to the ancient protected stones and an interpretation board.
Castor Parish Council is keen to protect these ancient monuments for future generations and is equally enthusiastic about the opportunity to allow visitors and local schools to understand more about the importance of the area as a trading and strategic place since Neolithic times. There is extensive evidence of early human settlement in the area but much of it is buried beneath the remains of countless centuries of human activity. These ancient stones stand as tangible evidence of the distant past.
Commenting on the award, Neil Boyce, chairman of Castor Parish Council, said: “We are thrilled that Castor Council has been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started.
“We are looking forward to working with English Heritage and Dr Stephen Upex to find out more of the ancient history surrounding these stones which we would not be able to do without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
Neil continued: “We are really keen to enhance and protect Robin Hood and Little John standing stones, in accordance with the parish council’s commitment to protecting our community heritage, both archaeological and natural. We work closely with our neighbouring parish council of Ailsworth to protect the vast ancient history in the area and the natural wildlife that has benefited from this protection – we are all really excited about telling other people of our findings and sharing our heritage and history with the wider public.”
Robyn Llewellyn head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England, said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that Castor Parish Council’s restoration of the Ancient Standing Stones 'Robin Hood' and 'Little John' can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”
Source: Press Release from Castor Parish Council. For further information, please contact Sarah Rodger at Castor Parish Council on 01780 435084, email@example.com
Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.
Flag Fen (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes
I had a few hours to kill in Peterborough so thought I would head off to Flag Fen rather than aimlessly around the shops. My expectations were low as I do not usually enjoy these reconstructed educational parks, however, it was a nice day and so I decided I might as well at least enjoy a walk there and back. I headed for the Perkins Industrial Estate, down Fourth Drove and soon found myself in open countryside on a pathway that led directly to Flag Fen, through an open gate and into the park at the opposite end to the visitor centre and payment desk free to wander round at leisure. It was a Friday and with the exception of a school trip I seemed to be the only other person there which left me a little worried as to whether the place was closed to the public and whether I should be there or not. In any case I spent a most enjoyable couple of hours there, the place is really dedicated to trying to show how fen people may have lived in the iron age and includes a reconstructed round house, a building housing remnants of a wooden walkway across the fen and a building housing a movie hall and the preservation site for wooden boats discovered at the nearby Must Farm. A further building held exhibits featuring articles found during excavation and various archaeological digs. For the school kids there was also a building housing a mock dig site where they could indulge themselves and run off some energy. The park included a reconstructed Drove and marked out the line of the old Roman Road from Peterborough to Norwich. Pleased I had decided to visit, and surprised how much there was there, I slipped out the back gate and was soon swallowed up by the Industrial Estate and eventually spat out into the Queensgate shopping centre all of which rather left me wondering which time period I would rather be living in. I resolved the little matter of entrance fee just in case you thought I was freerolling!
Bronze Age wheel at 'British Pompeii' Must Farm an 'unprecedented find'
A complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed.
The 3,000-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed "Britain's Pompeii", at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire.
Archaeologists have described the find - made close to the country's "best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings" - as "unprecedented".
Still containing its hub, the 3ft-diameter (one metre) wooden wheel dates from about 1,100 to 800 BC.
The wheel was found close to the largest of one of the roundhouses found at the settlement last month.
More on the Bronze Age wheel discovery
Its discovery "demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape's links to the dry land beyond the river", David Gibson from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation, said.
TL 39124310. The remains of an Iron Age square barrow located 170 metres north east of Summer House Farm. The barrow mound has been reduced by ploughing and is no longer visible above ground, but the surrounding ditch survives as a cropmark. This feature is roughly 20 metres square and encloses a central burial pit, also visible as a cropmark in aerial photographs. Scheduled. (1)
The monument includes a Bronze Age bowl barrow located 250 metres to the south of Waterhall Farm, within a small copse immediately to the north of the A14 known as `The Rookery'. The barrow mound is roughly circular in plan and domed in profile, measuring circa 35 metres in diameter and 1 metre high. The barrow forms part of a dispersed group or cemetery which included at least ten similar barrows, seven of which still survive and are scheduled separately.
[TL 67896700] TUMULUS [LB] (1) Shown on Fox's BA map as a round barrow under the heading "unexamined or destroyed without record of their contents having been preserved." Date unknown but situation suggests Bronze Age. (2)
This barrow lies deep in nettles and undergrowth but from the limited observation possible it appears to be a bowl barrow at least 40.0m in diameter and 1.5m height.
(A: TL 67186675; B: TL 67256685; C: TL 67236696; D: TL 67346690; E: TL 67476700) Tumuli (NR) (Sites of) (NAT) (1) Shown on map as Bronze Age barrows. (2)
Group of six tumuli, at present under crop so that full survey is impracticable. The tumuli are clearly mis-sited on OS 6".
A - Bowl barrow, 30.0m in diameter and 1.0m high.
B - Slight swelling crossed by west boundary fence of waterworks. Site of probably bowl barrow.
C - Slight swelling crossed by farm track. Site of probable bowl barrow.
D - Bowl barrow 35.0m in diameter and 1.0m high.
E - Bowl barrow 45.0m in diameter and 1.0m high.
F - Bowl barrow 40.0m in diameter and 0.7m high.
Sited approximately on 1:2500 antiquity model.
(A: TL 67156666; B: TL 67276677; C: TL 67216697; D: TL 67306695; E: TL 67426693; F: TL 67556702) Tumuli (NR) (Twice) (4)
Two of the barrows were excavated in April 1973 in advance of their destruction by roadworks for the Newmarket bypass. (5)
Barrow B, TL 67276676, partly underlay the fence of the water pumping station and could not be completely investigated. Trenches across the accessible part failed to reveal anything and the mound appears to be of natural origin.
Barrow A, TL 67176665, was also of natural origin but had five inhumation graves and a cremation cut into its summit. The minimum number of individuals interred was possibly five females, three males, and three immature individuals. The largest grave, grave 11, contained beaker sherds, numerous flint flakes, an ox bone, a small, circular coal bead, and a small bronze or copper cylinder. None of the other graves contained grave goods. (5)
Barrows A to F are as follows:-
Sites 'A' 'B' and 'F' destroyed or mutilated by new A11 by-pass.
'C': No change.
'D': A slight lift upon a natural rise in undulating chalk at present under plough. It measures overall circa 34.0m in diameter by 0.4m high.
'E': Slight lift in undulating chalk plough which measures circa 45.0m in diameter by 0.4m high.
'F': A slight rise in undulating chalk partially cut by the boundary of the new A11 by-pass. Averages 40.0m in diameter by 0.4m high, but only the western half survives.
Published 1:2500 survey revised on M.S.D. (6)
TL 53675280 & TL 53735287. Tumuli (NR). (1) Three Bronze Age barrows situated in Chaterhouse Plantation east of the Newmarket to London road, excavated by Neville in 1848. The first 5-6 ft high and 50 ft in diameter contained two cremations each with a cinerary urn in basin-shaped cists about 3 ft in circumference and 20 ins deep scopped out of the solid chalk. Other finds included a bronze pin, a fragment of coarse cloth in which the burnt bones had been wrapped and burnt oxen bones throughout the mound. The second barrow of similar size to the first contained one cremation with an urn but no cist. Finds included 8 black flint "arrowheads" (So called, evidently flakes) "unused", near it. A heap of 6 similar "arrowheads" were found near the edge of the mound and 3 more elsewhere in the mound. A portion of a small bronze ornament must be regarded as a secondary deposit. The third barrow contained a primary inhumation and bones of ox and sheep, and a secondary interment of Roman (?) date was noted. (2)
A group of four barrows (A-D), lying on level ground and partly covered by a tree belt. (A-C excavated by Neville).
'A' TL 53665280. A bowl barrow 22.0m in diameter and 1.5m high, slightly truncated by ploughing on the south east side. No trace of a ditch visible.
'B' TL53705284. A bowl barrow 16.0m in diameter and 1.0m high, no ditch is evident.
'C' TL 53725286. A bowl barrow 18.0m in diameter and 0.8m high slightly reduced on the south east side by ploughing. No trace of a ditch.
'D' TL 53735282. A probable barrow lying on level plough and visible as a light soil mark on OS AP (a). It measures circa 30.0m in diameter and 0.4m high, but has been much reduced by ploughing. No trace of a ditch.
Published 25" survey revised on AM. (3) TL 537 528. Balsham. 2 cists, Bronze Age structures, excavated within barrows and ring-ditches. (4)
Four bowl barrows situated south-east of Heath Farm, and forming part of a dispersed round barrow cemetery in Charterhouse Plantation. The southernmost mound ['A'] lies 920 metres south-east of Heath Farm and measures 25 metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high. Around 40 metres north-east lies another mound ['C'], approximately 17.5 metres in diameter and up to 0.5 metre high. The northernmost barrow ['B'] measures 21 metres in diameter and 1 metre high. To the east, lies a mound ['D'] which has been partly levelled by ploughing, but survives as a slight earthwork, with a diameter of 30 metres and a height of 0.4 metres. The surrounding ditches are believed to survive as buried features, 3 metres wide. In 1848, three of the barrows ['A', 'B' and 'C'] were partly excavated. One contained 2 cists cut into the natural chalk, each containing a cremated burial. Evidence suggests that fires had been lit within the cists. Charcoal from the funerary pile and burnt ox bones were found throughout the mound. The other two barrows contained interments but no cists, and one had been re-used as a burial place during the Roman period. Scheduled. (5)
LONG MOUND (TL 59036202) lies 380 yds. N.W. of Beacon Farm on a low chalk rise at 110 ft. above O.D. It has been heavily ploughed and almost completely destroyed. The low mound is 150 ft. long and 40 ft. wide but is only 9 ins.-1 ft. high. It is orientated almost E.N.E-W.S.W. and is surrounded by a shallow ditch now 25 ft. wide and up to 9 ins. deep.(1) Ploughed out; no remains.(2) Additional reference.(3)
TL 58926211. Buried remains of a long barrow south east of Partridge Hall Farm. The barrow mound has been reduced by ploughing and is no longer visible above ground, but the surrounding ditch and the central burial area appear on aerial photographs as cropmarks. The barrow is aligned east-west and measures roughly 66 metres long and 30 metres wide. Scheduled. (4)