Archaeologists have discovered the largest and most complete Bronze Age wheel, the earliest example of its kind, in Britain thought to date from 1100-800 BC.
The ancient wooden wheel is 1m in diameter and is so well preserved it still contains its hub and Historic England said the find was unprecedented in terms of size and completeness, although an incomplete Bronze Age wheel was found nearby at Flag Fen, Cambridgeshire in the 1990s.
This find is the latest in a series of discoveries at the Must Farm site in Peterborough, which are providing an extraordinary insight into domestic life 3,000 years ago.
Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage) and building products supplier Forterra are funding a major £1.1 million project to excavate 1,100 square metres of the Must Farm quarry site in Cambridgeshire.
The four year excavation project is more than half way through and when it is finished, the team from Cambridge Archaeology Unit will take the finds for further analysis and conservation. Eventually, they will be displayed at Peterborough Museum, Flag Fen and at other local venues. The end of the four year project will see a major publication about Must Farm and an online resource detailing the finds.
“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” said Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England. “The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”
Must Farm has already revealed circular wooden houses believed to be the best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in Britain. The houses collapsed into a river, after a catastrophic fire, which preserved their contents in amazing detail.
David Gibson, Archaeological Manager at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge said: “The discovery of the wheel demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscapes links to the dryland beyond the river.”