I visited Must Farm!

Luckily for me I was invited to go along to a little friends and family open day at  ‘Britain’s Pompeii’ (Daily Mail, 2015).

Back when a pipeline was being put in place and fragments of wood were pulled up in the foot wide trench, it was recognised to be something of interest, a note was made, should the quarry ever decide to extend, and in 2006 when a quarry expansion was planned the true identity and significance of Must Farm was revealed. Trail trenches were excavated and a plethora of late Bronze Age artefacts were retrieved, leading to the open area excavation currently taking place.

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Gone is the outstanding view of the Whittlesey McCain chip factory, a warehouse has been erected, water sprayers and scaffolding are at the ready. The site, being done by CUA, has been running since July 2015 and they’re now in the fight for more time (hence all of the outreach and open days to spread the word of site significance).

Three roundhouses (in blue), a palisade (in red) and a causeway (in green) have been revealed. The largest of the houses being almost 16m in diam. The three houses seem to be contemporary, or at least burnt down at the same time along with the palisade, but the causeway being around 100 years earlier.

The site is dated from 1300-1200BCE. All manner of specialists have been out to have a looksee, including, of course, those Flag Fen folks. Next week they have a shiny person going out to analyse and conclude whether the houses burnt down by accident or by arson. As of yet they’re keeping all of the specialist comments under wraps but a couple tid bits of gossip made it out. The content of the pots discovers in 2006 revealed food remains, a bizarre concoction of nettles and grains, I decided on a form of nettle bread and my housemates parents on nettle porridge; a well preserved box was lifted a couple of weeks ago and the skull of a child (no other bones) has been found under what appears to be the remains of the outer wall of the largest roundhouse.

The site looks good in the photos which have been spread across newspaper headlines and the bbc, but it can’t really compare to the reality. Stumbling across this open expanse of wood and you would think it freshly hewn and put together, bizarre levels of preservation! But here are a few of the best bits:

 

The largest of the roundhouses. (Note the half closest to the camera has started having its burnt down roof removed.) The palisade enclosing all 3 roundhouses, you’ll have to forgive the oblique section shot, but you can see the depth of the posts, they conducted a test and when the clay is wet the posts can be driven directly in without the need of cutting a posthole first, remains of the wattle and daub walls, having fallen inwards, every part of the house has collapsed in on itself, suggesting the fire started from within and the roof joinings, the one piece of wood has had a rectangular hole cut through its centre and a second piece of wood pushed through, the construction techniques show true wood working mastery.

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Barrows and Saxons

I have just finished what will probably remain the most interesting site of my career. It has been intense and incredible.

This site started out as a tad headache, initially having to machine it in two phases because the evaluation trenching identified two archaeological horizons. So a couple of months ago I conducted an excavation of the ‘higher’ or shall I say latest archaeological features, to do this I had to spend 9 days in front of a machine while a tiny field was stripped of its topsoil. A lot of spoil was created for not much reward, I had a dry stone wall, a minor earth work and the remnants of a ditch. All of which could not be more than 200 years old.

So from that initial survey I held out little hope for the second phase. BUT me of little faith!…. Turns out in that second horizon of archaeological features there was a total platter of amazing stuff.

Firstly there were some big neolithic pits and a few meandering ditches.

Then came an early Bronze Age barrow – containing this beauty:

20150812_121136 a lovely collared urn

Into that narrow some Anglo-Saxons dug some graves and deposited some fabulous treasures.

20150813_08410120150826_132146 some brooches and some beads

And although the preservation of the human remains was pretty poor, there were some little pockets within the sand (stuff must have miraculously created its own micro-climate and managed to outlast 1400 years) where true treasures lay.

Below are pictures of some weave, believed to belong to a purse and something wooden, having collapsed and sealed its copper alloy grave goods. This is the true mystery, is it a box? is it a ladle? only time (and conservators) shall tell.

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Digitally my site resulted in this:

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