Located in The Fens of Cambridgshire are the remains of a Bronze Age settlement known as Must Farm, named after the quarry in which they were found. Discovered in 1999 when a local archaeologist noticed a series of wooden posts sticking out of the quarry’s edge, the site has since been subject to a programme of excavations, which have revealed many incredibly well preserved artefacts that give us a real glimpse into life during the Bronze Age.
The excavations paint a very different environment at Must Farm to the one that exists today. Sometime around 1,000-800BC a series of piles, or stilts, were sunk into a river channel on top of which houses were built. Around the edge of the settlement a palisade, consisting of large ash posts, was constructed in situ, leaving the debris at the bottom of the slow-moving river.
What is remarkable is that at some point, perhaps as little as six months, after the settlement was built a fire tore through it, causing the homes and to collapse and drop into the river below. In the water the flames were immediately quenched as the homes dropped to the riverbed, where they were then covered with layers of non-porous silt, preserving everything from wooden utensils to textiles. It is this degree of preservation which makes the site so special and gives us an unprecedented insight into life during the Bronze Age.
Other objects found included a large wooden wheel (reported to be the most complete and earliest of its type in Britain), eight Bronze Age log boats, glass beads from main land Europe, and a bronze sickle. Must Farm also has the largest, and finest, collection of textiles from the British Bronze Age. The fibres and fabrics are incredibly useful to study as they reflect different aspects of the production of textiles, from the initial stages through to the finished objects. The finds indicate that the occupants were not isolated but had a good connection with those living in Britain and beyond.
Analysis of the materials recovered from Must Farm are still underway and you can follow progress over at the project’s website:
Recently, Must Farm was subject to a BBC documentary, which can still be found on iPlayer and is well worth a watch:
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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