Flag Fen Ancient Settlement

Flag Fen Ancient Settlement

Flag Fen features a reconstruction of a Bronze Age settlement on the site of an original lake settlement discovered and excavated by Francis Pryor in 1982.

The lake settlement would have been in use around 2800 years ago beside an ancient track across the fenland. This reconstruction of a Bronze Age roundhouse shows how people lived in the area over 3000 years ago and is based on the type of hut excavated at nearby Fengate in 1976.

The dwelling would have provided a home for a farming family based here after the land was reclaimed from the marshes sometime after 4500 years ago and would have been part of a community of similar farms scattered around the area. The interior of the Bronze Age roundhouse at Flag Fen has workspaces and bedding areas surrounding a central hearth. Interestingly some bronze age charcuterie can be seen in the form of various cuts of meat hanging from the roof that are presumably being smoke cured for preservation. A heavy turf roof is supported by large wooden posts and surrounded by wattle and daub walls. The roof is based on a similar roof that has survived in Scotland. The roof is capped with a sedge thatch and weighs around 8 tonnes when wet. If the “old oaken bucket” sentimentality can be excused, when looking out from the Bronze Age roundhouse at Flag Fen with the late afternoon sun streaming in it’s perhaps possible to get a real feeling of history.

Flag Fen is an excellent place to visit if you’re at all interested in prehistory. The reconstructed hut is based on a style from the early Iron Age in the transition from the Bronze Age when people where starting to form villages and is a popular tourist attraction.
There is a preserved section of the Bronze Age post-alignment or timber causeway structure from 3,300 years ago. These timbers are left exactly as they were found by archaeologists when they were uncovered.

While the causeway was being built, water levels in the fen were rising. When the Romans came to Britain the causeway and platform were already covered with waterlogged peat and clay. This layer stopped the timbers from rotting along with many other objects deposited here.

It is said that over 160,000 trees were felled by prehistoric people to construct the causeway and other structures in the area.

There is a selection of metal weapons found at Flag Fen that can be seen in the Flag Fen museum. A number of different types of weapon have been found which were in most cases deliberately damaged before being deposited in the waters of the fen.

The reason why prehistoric people deposited items in such ways is not known, archaeologists like to mention the word ‘ritual’. A pair of ancient metal shears with their own wooden box were found at Flag Fen, interestingly the design has not changed to the present day where similar shears are still in use over 3000 years later.
Part of an ancient wheel was found preserved in the mud at Flag Fen and thought to be the oldest wheel in England. The wheel is quite unsuitable for a heavy vehicle and was probably part of a small cart that would have supported the weight of up to two people. The skull of a prehistoric dog was found at Flag Fen showing how early on in history dogs and humans have lived together.

Created: 27  November  2016  Edited: 23  July  2018