On the edge of Must Farm Quarry in an area southeast of Britain known as the Fens, archaeologists are uncovering the charred remains of a 3,000-year-old English settlement. Perfectly preserved in mud, the prehistoric British Bronze Age Village – built at least one thousand years after Stonehenge – has been called the “British Pompeii.”
Here are some of the extraordinary findings the experts unearthed at the site, which have forever changed what we know about life in Bronze Age Britain.
The glass beads from Must Farm were made using shrubby plants. These plants only grow in semi-desert environments, and it’s very likely that they were made and imported from as far as the Middle East. They are colored with either copper or iron that produce a beautiful turquoise or pale green hue.
Fabrics like this have never been found at a British Bronze Age site before. The threads used to make these fabrics were woven out of delicate natural plant fibers. The threads are measured at just two tenths of a millimeter. The finding of the fine textiles proves that the people living at the Must Farm had more advanced, intricate material goods.
Axes could have had a dual role – practical tool or dangerous weapon. Axe-heads and swords were cast in bronze. Ridges along these instruments display the casting seams where the bronze has gone into the clay mold. Some recovered swords show deep notches running along the blades and that might be indicative that the object itself was actually used in conflict.
The only complete Bronze Age wheel ever found in Britain – evidence that people used wheels in Britain at this time has been scarce, but this find suggests wheels were an integral part of daily life. A new find of a harness fitting suggests this wheel might have been part of a horse-drawn cart. It also indicates this village was using more advanced farming techniques than previously thought.
Designer: Kyle Sweet
Producer: Chie Miyajima
Secrets of the Dead: After Stonehenge premieres Wednesday, October 26 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).