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Ironworking in the Bronze Age? Evidence from a 10th Century BC Settlement at Hartshill Copse, Upper Bucklebury, West Berkshire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

Mark Collard
Affiliation:
Cotswold Archaeology, Building 11, Kemble Enterprise Park, Cirencester GL7 6BQ,. mark.collard@cotswoldarch.org.uk; martin.watts@cotswoldarch.org.uk
Timothy Darvill
Affiliation:
Archaeology and Historic Environment Group, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow, Poole BH12 5BB,. tdarvill@bournemouth.ac.uk
Martin Watts
Affiliation:
Cotswold Archaeology, Building 11, Kemble Enterprise Park, Cirencester GL7 6BQ,. mark.collard@cotswoldarch.org.uk; martin.watts@cotswoldarch.org.uk

Abstract

Excavations at Hartshill Copse in 2003 uncovered evidence for Late Bronze Age settlement, securely dated to the 10th century BC, associated with long alignments of closely set posts: prehistoric landscape features with few known parallels. Extensive sampling of the settlement remains yielded quantities of burnt flint and plain Post Deverel-Rimbury potsherds, and, quite unexpectedly, a substantial quantity of iron hammerscale. This paper presents the excavation data, with supporting dating evidence, and the results of detailed analysis of the metallurgical residues. It explores the spatial distribution of artefact types within the settlement, and presents an interpretative model for settlement use. The nature of the settlement, with its carefully planned use of space and close relationship with the post alignments, is then discussed. Together, all this provides conclusive evidence for the earliest ironworking site yet recognised in Britain. The paper concludes with a comprehensive discussion of early ironworking in its British and European context.

Résumé

En 2003, des fouilles à Hartshill Copse ont mis au jour des témoignages d'une occupation de la fin de l'âge du bronze, datée avec certitude du 10ième siècle av.J.-C, associée à de longs alignements de poteaux rapprochés: aspect du paysage préhistorique qui a peu de parallèles connus. Un important échantillonnage des vestiges de l'occupation a fourni des quantités de silex brûlé et de tessons de poterie non-décorée post Deverel-Rimsbury et, ce qui était assez inattendu, une quantité substantielle de scories de fer. Cette étude présente les données des fouilles, accompagnées de preuves de datation et des résultats de l'analyse des résidus métallurgiques. Elle explore la répartition dans l'espace des divers types d'objets à l'intérieur de l'occupation, et présente un modèle d'interprétation pour l'utilisation du site. On discute ensuite de la nature de l'occupation, avec son utilisation soigneusement planifiée de l'espace et son étroite relation avec les alignements de poteaux. Ensemble, tout ceci fournit une preuve concluante que nous sommes en présence du plus ancien site de métallurgie jamais identifié en Grande-Bretagne. L'étude se termine par une discussion approfondie de la métallurgie primitive dans son contexte britannique et européen.

Zusammenfassung

2003 wurden bei Ausgrabungen in Harthill Copse Befunde einer spätbronzezeitlichen Siedlung entdeckt, die sicher in das 10. Jahrhundert BC datiert werden kann. Zu dieser Siedlung gehörten auch lange, eng gesetzte Pfostenreihen, die bisher als prähistorische Landschaftsmerkmale wenige Parallelen haben. Eine umfangreiche Untersuchung der Siedlungsreste lieferte Mengen an gebranntem Feuerstein und unverzierter Keramikscherben der Post-Deverel-Rimbury Periode; diese Untersuchung erbrachte überraschenderweise aber auch eine substantielle Anzahl eiserner Hammerschläge. Der Beitrag präsentiert sowohl die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung, inklusive der Datierung des Ausgrabungsmaterials, als auch die Analyseergebnisse der metallurgischen Reste. Weiterhin wird die räumliche Verteilung der Artefakttypen innerhalb der Siedlung untersucht und dazu ein interpretierendes Modell zur Siedlungsnutzung vorgestellt. Schließlich wird die Beschaffenheit der Siedlung mit ihrer sorgfältigen Raumplanung und -nutzung und ihrer engen Beziehung zu den Pfostenreihen diskutiert. Alle diese Elemente zusammen genommen, liefern sie einen schlüssigen Befund für die soweit früheste Fundstelle mit nachgewiesener Eisenbearbeitung in Großbritannien. o In einer Zusammenfassung wird eine umfassende Diskussion zur frühen Eisenbearbeitung in Großbritannien und in Europa gegeben.

Résumen

Las excavaciones en Harthill Copse en el año 2003 descubrieron evidencias de un asentamiento de la Edad del Bronce Tardío, datado con seguridad en el siglo X a.C, y asociado a unos largos alineamientos de postes emplazados a poca distancia los unos de los otros: unos elementos del paisaje prehistórico con pocos paralelos conocidos. La extensiva prospección de los restos del asentamiento trajo a la luz cantidades importantes de sílex quemada, restos de cerámica sin decorar del tipo Post-Deverel-Rimbury y, algo del todo inesperado, una cantidad sustancial de lascas de hierro. Este trabajo presenta los datos procedentes de la excavación, junto con la evidencia cronológica y los resultados del análisis de los restos metalúrgicos. Explora la distribución espacial de los tipos de artefacto en el interior del asentamiento, y presenta un modelo interpretativo para el uso del asentamiento. Después se trata de la naturaleza del asentamiento, con su cuidado diseño del uso del espacio y cercana relación con el alineamiento de postes. Todo el conjunto proporciona evidencia concluyente para el yacimiento más antiguo descubierto hasta hoy en día en Gran Bretaña donde se trabajó el hierro. El artículo termina con una extensa discusión del trabajo del hierro primitivo en su contexto británico y europeo.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2006

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