Seahenge: a quest for life and death in Bronze Age Britain

By Francis Pryor

A vigorous and authoritative research into the lives of our ancestors, in response to the revolution within the box of Bronze Age archaeology which has been occurring in Norfolk and the Fenlands over the past 20 years, and within which the writer has performed a imperative role.

One of the main haunting and enigmatic archaeological discoveries of contemporary occasions used to be the uncovering in 1998 at low tide of the so-called Seahenge off the north coast of Norfolk. This circle of wood planks set vertically within the sand, with a wide inverted tree-trunk within the center, likened to a ghostly ‘hand attaining up from the underworld’, has now been dated again to round 2020 BC. The timbers are presently (and controversially) within the author’s safekeeping at Flag Fen.

Francis Pryor and his spouse (an specialist in old wood-working and research) were on the centre of Bronze Age fieldwork for almost 30 years, piecing jointly the lifestyle of Bronze Age humans, their payment of the panorama, their faith and rituals. The well-known wetland websites of the East Anglian Fens have preserved ten instances the data in their dryland opposite numbers like Stonehenge and Avebury, within the type of pollen, leaves, wooden, hair, pores and skin and fibre stumbled on ‘pickled’ in dust and peat.

Seahenge demonstrates how a lot Western civilisation owes to the prehistoric societies that existed in Europe within the final 4 millennia BC.

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There may be doubtless in any respect. I now have an understanding of that the cause of my preliminary confusion in regards to the relationship of the sherds used to be uncomplicated. more often than not I observed Neolithic pottery that have been uncovered to the weather, both in the topsoil or at the floor. This publicity got rid of the unique advantageous end; then humic acids within the topsoil dissolved out the shell mood and gave the pottery a much less strong appear and feel; it always resembled cork greater than ceramics. however the pottery in my hand used to be from deeply buried, sealed and waterlogged contexts. It had by no means lain round at the floor. these twigs, too, had came upon their means into the floor with the pottery. it may possibly no longer were a prolonged procedure – might be it purely lasted a couple of hours, or at such a lot an afternoon or . So i used to be preserving in my palms the continues to be of a unmarried occasion that had taken position over six thousand years in the past. It used to be an odd sensation. For a fleeting second I felt i used to be conserving time itself, which had stopped useless. My reverie used to be rudely interrupted by means of a shout from around the box. Charly French and different participants of the group had determined to put off their weekend and had pop out to determine what i used to be as much as. They carried spades and shovels and have been essentially desirous to use them. I confirmed them the rimsherd and the wooden and twigs we had came across round it. whereas the opposite tested it, Charly was once already on his fingers and knees on the backside of the ditch, taking a look closely on the flooring. He straightened up. ‘Was it the trench? ’ I requested him. He nodded with a tremendous grin. It convinced used to be. The desktop we had borrowed from the quarry used to be outfitted with a toothed bucket, and the bolts which secured teeth to the leading edge were thoroughly smoothed over in the course of its operating lifestyles, so we couldn’t get them off. tooth can do severe harm to archaeological deposits, so we determined to move no deeper into the trench filling with the digger. We had no substitute yet to dig via hand. I don’t imagine i've got ever obvious 4 skilled archaeologists move at a role with larger pleasure. The birds sang, the sunlight shone and we have been operating, as much as our waists, within the so much lovely waterlogged Neolithic enclosure ditch. i assume it’s now not everyone’s notion of Heaven, however it was once ours. by way of the top of the day we had reached the ditch’s backside, and within the method had came upon but extra Mildenhall pottery, a number of animal bones, and massive amounts of wooden which we packed into baggage for Maisie to examine that night. sooner than we begun paintings in any respect, we had had 3 easy targets. First, to discover and maybe date the trench; moment, to work out even if it used to be waterlogged; and 3rd, to work out what upkeep was once like in the inside of the enclosure. the 1st target used to be effectively completed, and we had additionally verified that the trench used to be waterlogged; yet – and this was once caring – Charly concept he might observe indicators of drying out. The quarry was once purely 200 metres away, and, as in any respect sleek pits, the gravel from it used to be extracted dry. This intended that the full quarry, the place the machines and dumpers have been operating, needed to be pumped dry to a intensity of six or seven metres under the outside.

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