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The Survey and Excavation of a Bronze Age Timber Circle at Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, 1998–9

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2014

Mark Brennand
Affiliation:
Cumbria County Council, County Offices, Kendal, Cumbria
Maisie Taylor
Affiliation:
c/o Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre, The Droveway, Northey Road, Peterborough

Abstract

In 1998 a circle of timber posts within the intertidal zone on the north Norfolk coast was brought to the attention of the Norfolk County Council Archaeological Service. A subsequent programme of archaeological recording and dating revealed that the structure was constructed in the spring or early summer of 2049 BC, during the Early Bronze Age. Because of the perceived threat of damage and erosion from the sea a rescue excavation was undertaken during the summer months of 1999. The structure was entirely excavated, involving the removal of the timbers and a programme of stratigraphic recording and environmental analysis. A survey was also undertaken within the environs of the site which has identified further timber structures dating from the Bronze Age. Detailed examination of the timber from the circle has produced a wealth of unexpected information which has added greatly to our understanding of Early Bronze Age woodworking, organisation of labour and the layout and construction of timber ritual monuments.

Résumé

En 1998, on a attiré l'attention du service archéologique du conseil général du Norfolk sur un cercle de poteaux de bois qui se trouvait dans la zone intertidale de la côte nord du Norfolk. Il s'en est suivi d'un programme de répertoriage archéologique et de datation qui révéla que la structure avait été construite au printemps ou au début de l'été 2049 avant J.-C, au début de l'âge du bronze. Conscients des risques de dégâts et d'érosion marine, on entreprit des fouilles de sauvetage pendant les mois d'été 1999. La structure fut entièrement excavée, ce qui impliqua l'enlèvement des bois et un programme de répertoriage stratigraphique et d'analyses environnementales. On entreprit également des recherches dans les environs du site qui permirent d'identifier d'autres structures en bois de l'âge du bronze. Un examen détaillé des bois provenant du cercle a fourni un grand nombre de renseignements inattendus qui sont venus améliorer notablement notre compréhension de l'industrie du bois, de l'organisation du travail et de l'agencement et de la construction des monuments rituels en bois au début de l'âge du bronze.

Zusammenfassung

1998 wurde der archäologische Service des Landrates von Norfolk auf einen Holzpfostenkreis in der Gezeitenzone der nördlichen Norfolk-Küste aufmerksam. Die folgende archäologische Aufnahme und Datierung zeigte, dass die Struktur im Frühling oder zu Beginn des Sommers 2049 BC (d.h. während der Frühen Bronzezeit) errichtet worden war. Da das Meer eine akute Zerstörungs- und Erosionsgefahr darstellte, wurde während der Sommermonate 1999 eine Rettungsgrabung durchgeführt. Dabei wurde die Struktur vollständig ausgegraben, wobei auch das Holz ausgenommen wurde, und stratigraphisch und umweltarchäologisch untersucht. In der unmittelbaren Umgebung der Fundstelle ließen sich mit Hilfe eines anschließenden Surveys weitere Holzstrukturen nachweisen, die ebenfalls in die Bronzezeit datiert werden können. Die umfangreichen Untersuchungen des aus dem Kreis stammenden Holzes haben zahlreiche unerwartete Informationen hervorgebracht, die unsere Kenntnis der frühbronzezeitlichen Holzbearbeitung, Arbeitsorganisation und Aufbau und Bauweise von rituellen Holzmonumenten erheblich verbessern.

Résumen

En 1998 se avisó a la Norfolk County Council Archaeological Servicede la existencia de un círculo de postes de madera dentro de la zona de marea de la costa norte de Norfolk. El consiguiente programa de recogida de datos y datación arqueológica reveló que la estructura fue construida en la primavera o al principio del verano del año 2049 BC, durante la Primera Edad del Bronce. Dado el posible peligro de daño y erosión por parte del mar, se comenzó una excavación de rescate durante los meses de verano de 1999. La estructura fue completamente excavada, efectuándose el traslado de los maderos y un programa de registro estratigráfico y de análisis del medio ambiente. También se llevó a cabo un reconocimiento de superficie de los alrededores del yacimiento que ha identificado otras estructuras de madera datadas en la Edad del Bronce. El examen detallado de los maderos procedentes del círculo ha aportado una gran cantidad de inesperada información que ha enriquecido grandemente nuestro conocimiento de las técnicas del trabajo de la madera, la organización del trabajo, y del trazado y la construcción de monumentos rituales de madera en la Primera Edad del Bronce.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Prehistoric Society 2003

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The Survey and Excavation of a Bronze Age Timber Circle at Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, 1998–9
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