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Making Must Farm: Artefacts from a Bronze Age Toolkit.

Updated: Jan 31

Bronze Age settlement on stilts, surrounded by a wooden palisade above a fenland.
Must Farm Reconstruction -Illustration by ©Vicki Herring/CAU

The Must Farm site near Peterborough is a late Bronze Age settlement dating back to 1000-800BC. The Pile Dwelling Settlement was built on a platform on piles over a river channel. The piles were destroyed by fire, causing the structure to collapse into the river, thereby preserving the contents in situ.

The site was first discovered in 1999 with a full-scale excavation in 2015-16 led by Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU). Now, AncientCraft has partnered with CAU to create replicas of some of the amazing artefacts in an ongoing project to help to bring the story of Must Farm and its finds to a wider audience.

1. A Bronze Axe

The axe is as much a symbol of our prehistoric past as it was a tool that was important to people thousands of years ago. Thousands of bronze axe heads have been found across the UK, usually as isolated finds, but sometimes as large groups or hoards. Rarely are they found with their wooden handle…

2. A Bronze Sickle

The sickle is a tool that may have had its origins with hunter-gatherers who used bladed tools to harvest grasses and wild grains. The conditions at Must Farm allowed some Late Bronze Age sickles to remain preserved with fragments of their handles. The finds represent nearly one quarter of all Bronze Age sickles found in Britain!

3. A Bronze Spear

The spear is a tool that has its origins back in the Lower Palaeolithic several hundred thousand years ago. A tool once used for hunting megafauna would later see its use shift towards warfare and defence…

4. A Bronze Gouge

The number and variety of gouge types found at Must Farm suggests they were used for different types or stages of woodworking from creating joints to finishing bowls. This is supported by gouge marks still visible on wood found around the site…

5. A Bronze Razor

Razors are conventionally interpreted as part of elite male culture, chiefly on the strength of an association with male burials; however there may be more to their story than meets the eye...

6. A Bronze Chisel

A chisel, implies refined carpentry for cutting joints and fitting pieces of wood together. They are tools used for removing smaller quantities of material, sometimes in smaller spaces where an axe would not work effectively…

7. A Wooden Box

Close to 200 wood and bark artefacts were preserved in the ideal muddy conditions of the Must Farm landscape, including a particularly special small wooden box. Post excavation analysis of these items have helped archaeologists identify the tree species that were being used at the time to create these artefacts…

8. A Bobbin

Finds of spinning-related wooden implements from late prehistory are rare and we are not aware of any British Bronze Age parallels for bobbins or spindles. At Must Farm, 40 wooden bobbins were found preserved in the mud. The size and range of the Must Farm fibre and fabric assemblage adds substantially to the quantity of information and depth of knowledge on Late Bronze Age fibres and fabrics across Britain.

If you want to find out more about this incredible site, visit:

Thanks to Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Forterra, Historic England and University of Cambridge for making the production of these video's possible.

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