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‘WHERE WATER WELLS UP FROM THE EARTH’: EXCAVATIONS AT THE FINDSPOT OF THE LATE BRONZE AGE HOARD FROM BROADWARD, SHROPSHIRE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2015

Richard Bradley
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES), The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading RG6 6AB, UK. Email: r.j.bradley@reading.ac.uk
Jodie Lewis
Affiliation:
The Institute of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ, UK. Email: jodie.lewis@worc.ac.uk
David Mullin
Affiliation:
The Institute of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ, UK. Email: d.mullin@worc.ac.uk
Nicholas Branch
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES), The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading RG6 6AB, UK. Email: n.p.branch@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

The paper begins by considering the importance of springs as a focus for votive deposits in Bronze Age Britain. This is not a new idea, but nowhere has this association been examined through the excavation of one of these features. The point is illustrated by excavation at the findspot of a famous group of Late Bronze Age weapons, the Broadward hoard, discovered in 1867. Little was known about the site, where it was found or the character of the original deposit, but a study of contemporary accounts of the hoard, combined with geophysical and topographical surveys, led to small-scale excavation in 2010, which showed that the deposit had most probably been buried in a pit on the edge of a spring. Other finds associated with the spring included an Early Bronze Age macehead, a Roman pot and various Saxon and medieval animal bones. The latest deposit, with a post-medieval carbon date, included a wooden knife or dagger. An adjacent palaeochannel provided an important environmental sequence for this part of the English–Welsh borderland and suggests that the Late Bronze Age hoard had been deposited not far from a settlement. A nearby earthwork enclosure was associated with a clay weight, which may be of similar date. Despite the limited scale of the fieldwork, it illustrates the potential for treating springs associated with artefact finds on the same terms as other archaeological deposits.

Résumé

Cet article examine pour commencer l’importance des sources dans les dépôts votifs de l’âge du bronze, en Grande-Bretagne. Ce sujet n’est pas nouveau, mais cette association n’avait encore jamais été étudiée dans le cadre de la fouille d’un de ces lieux. Ce point est illustré par la fouille de l’endroit où fut découvert un groupe célèbre d’armes de la fin de l’âge du bronze, le trésor de Broadward, découvert en 1867. On disposait de peu d’informations sur le site où il fut trouvé, ou sur le caractère du dépôt d’origine, mais l’étude de comptes rendus de l’époque sur le trésor, associée à des études géophysiques et topographiques, a conduit en 2010 à l’exécution d’une fouille de faible envergure, laquelle a montré que le dépôt avait sans doute été enfoui dans une fosse, au voisinage d’une source. Parmi les autres objets associés à la source figuraient une tête de massue du début de l’âge du bronze, un récipient romain et divers os d’animaux datant de l’époque des Saxons et du Moyen Âge. Dans le dépôt le plus récent, qui remonte selon la datation par le carbone 14 à la période postmédiévale, se trouvait un couteau ou poignard en bois. Un paléochenal adjacent permet de déterminer une importante séquence environnementale concernant cette partie de la région frontière séparant l’Angleterre et le Pays de Galles et indique que le trésor de la fin de l’âge du bronze avait été déposé à proximité d’un établissement. Un enclos en terrassement voisin était associé à un poids en argile d’une date peut-être semblable. Malgré l’ampleur limitée des travaux de terrain, il illustre les possibilités qui s’offrent si l’on traite les sources associées à des objets de la même manière que les autres dépôts archéologiques.

Zusammenfassung

In der Abhandlung wird eingangs die Bedeutung erwogen, die Quellen als Schwerpunkt für Votivgaben in Britannien der Bronzezeit haben. Diese Überlegung ist nicht neu, aber bisher ist diese Beziehung noch nie durch die Ausgrabung einer dieser Besonderheiten geprüft worden. Verdeutlicht wird dieser Kontext durch die Ausgrabung am Fundort einer berühmten Waffengruppe aus der Spätbronzezeit, dem im Jahre 1867 entdeckten Broadward-Hortfund. Über den Ort des Fundes oder den Charakter des ursprünglichen Fundes war wenig bekannt, doch eine Studie zeitgenössischer Berichte über den Hortfund verbunden mit geophysikalischen und topografischen Gutachten führte dazu, dass 2010 eine Ausgrabung in kleinem Rahmen durchgeführt wurde, die zeigte, dass der Hort höchstwahrscheinlich in einer Grube am Rand einer Quelle vergraben worden war. Zu weiteren, mit dieser Quelle assoziierten Funden, zählten ein Keulenkopf aus der frühen Bronzezeit, ein römischer Topf und verschiedene sächsische und mittelalterliche Tiergebeine. Der zeitlich späteste Fund mit einer Kohlenstoffdatierung für die nachmittelalterliche Zeit enthielt ein hölzernes Messer bzw. einen Dolch. Ein nebenliegender Paläokanal lieferte eine wichtige Umweltsequenz für diesen Abschnitt des englisch-walisischen Grenzlandes, was darauf schließen lässt, dass der Hortfund aus der Spätbronzezeit unweit von einer Siedlung deponiert worden war. Ein nahegelegener Erdwall wird mit einem Tongewicht assoziiert, das scheinbar ähnlichen Datums ist. Trotz des beschränkten Umfangs der Feldarbeit zeigt es das Potenzial dafür auf, mit Artefaktfunden assoziierte Quellen auf dieselbe Weise wie andere archäologische Funde zu behandeln.

Type
Papers
Copyright
© The Society of Antiquaries of London 2015 

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