At a site dubbed “British Pompeii”, archaeologists recently excavated a 3-foot Bronze Age wheel: the oldest intact wheel ever to be found in the United Kingdom.
The wheel was discovered near Must Farm, a location on the eastern side of England near the city of Peterborough. Excavators from the University of Cambridge said the discovery will broaden our comprehension of Late Bronze Age life and the archeological site, comprised of large wooden round houses, constructed on stilts, that plunged into a river after a major fire 3,000 years ago.
“The discovery of the wheel demonstrates that the inhabitants of this watery landscape had links to the dry land beyond the river,” David Gibson, archaeological manager at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, said in a statement.
The large wheel was unearthed just a couple yards outside of the biggest rounded house in the location. Other finds at the site include a wooden platter, small wooden box, and rare small jars with food remains inside, as well as textiles and Bronze Age tools. After a devastating fire, the houses fell into a slow-moving and silt-filled river, which conserved their contents in pristine detail.
“Among the wealth of other fabulous artifacts and the new structural remains of round houses built over this river channel, this site continues to amaze and astonish us with its insight into prehistoric life, the latest being the discovery of this wooden wheel,” said Kasia Gdaniec, the senior archaeologist for the local county council. “Believed to be the most complete example yet found from this period, this wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and, together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011, transportation.”
When the excavation of the site is complete, the team will take the discoveries in for further evaluation and conservation. Ultimately, the items will be exhibited at Peterborough Museum, Flag Fen and at other regional venues. The end of the four-year project will see a major publication on Must Farm and a website detailing the finds.