The Cambridge Archaeological Unit is excavating Must Farm, a well-preserved British site that has provided a glimpse into daily life during the Bronze Age. Described as ‘British Pompeii,’ Must Farm was destroyed quickly and its buildings sank into water, where the settlement was preserved for the next 3,000 years or so. Now archaeologists are finding everything from textiles to food to a wheel, and describe the site as home to “an extraordinarily rich range of good and objects.”
The excavation at Must Farm is funded by Forterra and Historic England and supported by the University of Cambridge. Like Pompeii, the story of the Must Farm inhabitants ends in tragedy. Because the site is so well-preserved, archaeologists have many clues to piece together what likely happened.
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The Must Farm locals built round homes on stilts above a river. There were about 10 of these wooden homes, and about 30 people lived there. Archaeologists can tell that the oak trees utilized in the homes were cut down in the winter, and the next summer, the entire settlement burned down rapidly in an inferno. Forensic research appears to indicate the fire may have been set on purpose before the residents were able to truly establish their settlement. The remains of the houses and the possessions that fell into the river and river silt were preserved in the fens.
It appears any survivors may have had to flee given how many possessions were left behind. Archaeologists have found axes, spears, 60 beads (that could have come from Turkey or Syria), linen fragments, and even footprints. There were no skeletons other than a skull that had likely been hung as a trophy on one of the homes.
Site manager Mark Knight told CNN, “I think I’ve found a landscape that has a story; a landscape that hasn’t been described before, hasn’t been visited before. We are the first people to explore it.”
Images via Must Farm Archaeology Facebook