Bronze Age Settlement 3000 Years Old (Part 2): ‘Must Farm, UK’ dig site give up more amazing artifacts!

must_box2Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to find the well-preserved wooden box inside one of the roundhouses

A tiny wooden box with its contents still inside, an intact pot and animal bones are some of the first items unearthed inside a roundhouse at what has been dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii”.

The UK’s “best preserved Bronze Age dwellings”, found at a Cambridgeshire quarry, date from about 1,000-800 BC. They were preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire. The “delicate task” to uncover the contents has just begun but the finds have been called “amazing artifacts”.

The two or three circular wooden houses uncovered by archaeologists were built on stilts, and formed part of a settlement partially destroyed by fire 3,000 years ago.

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A cluster of animal and fish bones could have been kitchen waste, archaeologists said

must_sieve

Using a specially-built wet sieving station the team can examine sediment from inside one of the houses and ensure that “even the tiniest vertebrate remains and glass beads” can be recovered

The site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, has been described as “unique” by David Gibson, from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation.

Most Bronze Age sites have no timber remaining, just post-holes – but here, the stilts, roof structure and walls have been unearthed.

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The diagram shows a roundhouse before and after the fire

It is thought the roof fell in during the fire, covering the contents of the houses. Much would have been preserved as it sank into the Fenland silt. Only a small section of one of the house interiors is being examined as yet.

Bone ‘cluster’

One of the first items found was “a very small, delicate wooden box that is mostly complete”. Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to discover such a well-preserved artifact. The contents appear to be inside still, but work to examine what those might be will not take place until later.

bucket

A wooden bowl or bucket base together with pottery have been found in the occupation deposit beneath the roof

An intact “fineware” pot and animal bones have also been found, all of which must be “meticulously” cleaned and documented. The “cluster” of fish and animal bones uncovered inside “could have been the kitchen waste of the time,” they said.

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Archaeologists began looking beneath the roof for the house’s contents (left) after documenting more than 1,000 timber pieces (right)

Although they are in the very early stages of examining the house interior, the quality and quantity of what has been uncovered so far has left archaeologists “very excited”. The site has the “potential for more uncommon household objects including tools, cutlery and even furniture,” they said.

The excavation is being jointly funded by Historic England and quarry owner Forterra. Pompeii, in ancient Rome, was hit by a volcanic eruption in AD 79. Tonnes of ash fell, preserving much of the city for thousands of years.

Bronze Age Europe and Britain

must_artifact

Gold cape discovered in Mold, north Wales – a supreme example of Bronze Age art

  • The Bronze Age in Britain lasted from between 2500 and 2000BC until the use of iron became common, between 800-650BC
  • It came after metalworkers discovered that adding tin to copper produced bronze, used for tools and weaponry which were much more hard-wearing
  • The Greek poems of Homer – though composed later – look back to a time when bronze weapons were used
  • Classic Bronze Age remains include sophisticated axes, precious gold objects, and round burial mounds or “barrows” of which many can still be seen in Britain*

 

Credit:  BBC News    (02-16)

Cambridge Archaeological Unit
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Bronze Age Discovery: Amazing 3000-year-old settlement gives up wheel!

bronze-age-cnn-wheel

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 3 ft-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.

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. Historic England, which is jointly funding the £1.1 m excavation with landowner Forterra, described the find as “unprecedented in terms of size and completeness”.

“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” chief executive Duncan Wilson said.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

Must-Farm_digArchaeologists worked on a wooden platform as they uncovered roundhouses at the quarry

Historic England, which is jointly funding the £1.1m excavation with landowner Forterra, described the find as “unprecedented in terms of size and completeness”.

“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” chief executive Duncan Wilson said.

“The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”

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The dig site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, has been described as “unique”

It has proved to be a Bronze Age treasure trove for archaeologists who earlier this year uncovered two or possibly three roundhouses dating from about 1,000-800 BC. The timbers had been preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire.

Wheel_completeThe Bronze Age wheel is said to be the largest, earliest complete example of its kind ever found in Britain.

Kasia Gdaniec, senior archaeologist at the county council, said the “fabulous artefacts” found at the site continued to “amaze and astonish”.

“This wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and – together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011 – transportation,” she said.

The spine of what is thought to be a horse, found in early January, could suggest the wheel belonged to a horse-drawn cart, however, it is too early to know how the wheel was used, archaeologist Chris Wakefield said.

spine_horseThe spine of what is thought to be a horse was found not far from the wheel

While the Must Farm wheel is the most complete, it is not the oldest to be discovered in the area. An excavation at a Bronze Age site at Flag Fen near Peterborough uncovered a smaller, partial wheel dating to about 1,300 BC. The wheel was thought to have been part of a cart that could have carried up to two people.

The Must Farm quarry site has given up a number of its hidden treasures over the years including a dagger found in 1969 and bowls still containing remnants of food, found in 2006.

More recently the roundhouses, built on stilts, were discovered. A fire destroyed the posts, causing the houses to fall into a river where silt helped preserve the timbers and contents.

What does the wheel tell us?

Wheel2

“We’re here in the middle of the Fens, a very wet environment, so the biggest question we’ve got to answer at the moment is ‘Why on earth is there a wheel in the middle of this really wet river channel?’,” says archaeologist Chris Wakefield.

“The houses are built over a river and within those deposits is sitting a wheel – which is pretty much the archetype of what you’d expect to have on dry land – so it’s very, very unusual.”

An articulated animal spine found nearby – at first thought to be from a cow – is now believed to be that of a horse.

“[This] has pretty strong ties if they were using something like a cart.

“In the Bronze Age horses are quite uncommon. It’s not until the later period of the Middle Iron Age that they become more widespread, so aside from this very exciting discovery of the wheel, we’ve also got potentially other related aspects that are giving us even more questions.

“This site is giving us lots of answers but at the same time it’s throwing up questions we never thought we’d have to consider.” Analyzing the data from samples found at Must Farm could take the team several years, he added.

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Artist’s  impression of what one of the roundhouses might have looked like

Other artifacts found inside the roundhouses themselves – including a small wooden box, platter, an intact “fineware” pot and clusters of animal and fish bones that could have been kitchen waste – have been described as “amazing” by archaeologists.

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Archaeologists said they were “thrilled” to find a well-preserved wooden box inside one of the roundhouses

At the time of this article, the team is just over halfway through the dig to uncover the secrets of the site and the people who lived there.*

Credit:  BBC News – Cambridgeshire     (02-16)

How a Viking ended up with an English sword

Artifact-Norway-Viking-SwordWhat is it?
Sword

Culture
Viking

Date
First half of the 11th century A.D.

Material
Iron, silver, gold, silver thread, copper alloy thread

Found
Langeid, Setesdal Valley, southern Norway

Dimensions
3.08 feet long

At first the grave’s contents seemed poorer than might be expected, given that it was the largest excavated burial in the Langeid cemetery. When archaeologists dug into the coffin, they found just two fragments of silver coins, one from northern Europe, and a penny minted under the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred II (Æthelred the Unready) in England. Yet the four postholes at the grave’s corners made it clear that it had once been roofed, a sign of the deceased’s high status. Outside the coffin, however, they soon saw something that, says excavation leader Camilla Cecilie Wenn, “made our eyes really pop” when the dirt began to fall away. On one side of the coffin was a large battle-ax, and on the other, the hilt of a three-foot-long sword that once belonged to a Viking, one whose identity might even be known.

The Viking king Canute invaded England at the beginning of the eleventh century and became king of England in A.D. 1016 when Æthelred’s sons fled. According to twelfth-century Danish chronicler Sven Aggesen, the elite force of 3,000 warriors serving under the king carried axes and swords with gilded heads and hilts, similar to the ax and sword found at Langeid. This type of weaponry is known to have been made in the British Isles, and an inscribed runestone found not far from Langeid indicates that men from this region fought with Canute, probably in the English campaigns of A.D. 1013–1014. “We believe it’s probable that the owner of the sword and the ax was a warrior in King Canute’s army who may have acquired the sword in England,” says Wenn. “The link to the British Isles is also well supported by the grave’s Anglo-Saxon coin, which is the only one unearthed in the cemetery.”*

 

Source: ArchaeologyMagazine.com