New Science

Perfect 3000-Year Old Wheel Discovered at ‘Fenland Pompeii’

Although archaeology is a relatively new science, many  believe that most of the great finds have already been discovered. A team from the University of Cambridge, however, have proven that this is not the case.

Cambridgeshire, England

On Must Farm in the idyllic county of Cambridgeshire, archaeologists have unearthed a perfectly preserved bronze-age wooden wheel, thought to be the oldest wheel ever found in the UK. The site has been dubbed a Fenland Pompeii due to the myriad of finds already discovered here, including a half-buried female skull, bone and food traces, weapons, log boats and even houses.

The wheel is just one in a long line of discoveries but it has made Mark Knight, director of the site, very excited:

“This site is one continuing surprise, but if you had asked me, a perfectly preserved wheel is the last thing I would have expected to find…On this site objects never seen anywhere else tend to turn up in multiples, so it’s certainly not impossible we’ll go on to find another even better wheel.”

The wheel was discovered to be lying within a river channel, and archaeologists believe it may have originally been affixed to the wall of a building, possibly in order to repair it. The wheel actually seems to have been disturbed first when a 20th Century geologist bored through a section of the timber when taking a soil sample at the site. As well as this human interference, the wheel also appears to have been scorched by a fire which wiped out an ancient settlement here. Despite its damage, the wheel is still being carefully excavated as it is both larger and more complete than any similar artifact previously discovered.

In fact, many of the finds from this site are the best preserved from the Bronze period, and they are attracting interest from the archaeologists all over the world.

A fineware bowl discovered on the site

Francis Pryor, one of the best-known archaeologists in Britain, has discreetly visited the site to compare the new wheel to one he discovered at Flag Fen in Peterborough. Even he,who has seen many amazing things in his time, couldn’t be more positive about the site:

“This is the site I have been looking for all my life.This was one of the most prosperous parts of Britain at this date. All the attention has gone to sites like Stonehenge, but they were on the periphery. Economically, this was where it was at.”

The wheel is just one of many excellent discoveries to come out of the site, which was due to close in March. With so many finds still being revealed (almost daily, according to Lizzy Middleton who has been working on the site since 2008), the £1.1 million excavation may well be extended.

Unfortunately the site will eventually have to be closed down in order for a new working quarry to set up shop, but even then many of the finds will be preserved in local museums and the neighbouring Flag Fen site.

To find out more about the site and its finds, visit the Must Farm website and Facebook page.

 

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