Must Farm Bronze Age site
Today the Must Farm site is a busy brick quarry near the River Nene in Cambridgeshire. But thousands of years ago in the Bronze Age, everything looked very different. A river would have flowed through the site and the areas around would have been marshy and boggy.
Selina Davenport from the Cambridge University Archaeological Unit (CUAU) tells YAC all about this amazing site...
In 2006 we dug a very small part of the site. We found the original timbers posts which supported a platform with a settlement on top. We have also found lots of the things the people living here were using. These include whole pots which still contained food, small pieces of clothing, beautiful beads and metalwork.
This leads us to believe that there was a busy community here in the Bronze Age. They were living on a platform, built on stilts out into the river. However, they had a good understanding of the ‘dry’ landscape too. They used raw materials from the nearby woodland for their houses, boats, traps and weirs, and also for their clothing. We also know they were moving around the landscape by boat.
The Bronze Age people at Must Farm were catching fish and eels in the river as well as farming cattle and sheep, hunting deer, and using the milk, wool, hides and antler for other purposes. They were also making (or trading to get) beautiful bronze objects.
Why does so much evidence survive at Must Farm?
The preservation at Must Farm is amazing; the objects we find look almost good as new. We believe that the Must Farm platform caught fire, collapsed into the river and was immediately protected in the soft silt of the river bed.
The river continued to silt up and peat formed as the climate changed until there was no river here and the area was covered in a layer of peat. This protected the structure and the finds. No air could get to the organic items and without oxygen they don’t decompose. Also because the site was buried by such a thick layer of peat, the structure and finds were not disturbed by ploughing or any other modern activities until the quarrying began.
What next at Must Farm?
Now in 2015 we are returning to this exciting site as part of a jointly funded Historic England and Forterra project to dig the settlement as a whole.
You can follow our progress on our website www.mustfarm.com
Blog by Selina Davenport, Cambridge University Archaeological Unit (CUAU)