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Must Farm (again)

13 January 2016

Must Farm has been the object of archaeological reports and news flashes for a number of years. It is back again – in the news (go to http://phys.org/print371810248.html ). It is the unusual fact that bronze age houses have been preserved, with most of their contents, that has captured the medias interest. Normally, archaeological sites it the UK are short on the fundamentals of life (especially the household). Anything non durable has usually rotted away and most of the things that are durable are made of stone or fired clay – such as pots and loom weights, stone tools and quern stones etc. At Must Farm there has been a bonanze – preserved in the wet Fens, and buried in sediment. The assumption is that the fire  that destroyed the houses was accidental – and the date seems to support this (some point between 1000 and 800BC). However, the houses were on stilts and the strange thing is that the whole of the house collapsed, sawn off at the knees (the stilts can still be seen as tall stumps sticking up from the Fen (lakes, rivers and marshland). How does a fire do that? More to the point – where did the fire break out? Was it inside the houses or below the houses. Lots of questions seem to be unanswered. In addition, how quickly were the houses buried in order to preserve them. Were they covered in mud abruptly – or over a period of time. Was the fire accompanied by a flood event?

Whatever way you look at it the houses had been abandoned hurriedly – in order to leave common household items behind. What sort of warning did they get? Was it a raid by a hostile faction or a spillage of fuel or even a lightning strike? See also http://phys.org/wire-news/214046805/bronze-age-stilt-houses-unearthed-in…

The site is located in a clay quarry in the general Flag Fen location. Flag Fen was one of the famous archaeological excavations of the 20th century, which involved Francis Prior (some time contributor to Time Team, sheep farmer, and prolific author). I think you will find the latest PR will herald a new book or publication on Must Farm – a must read for anybody into British archaeology. See also https://www.sciencex/r/?n=371810248

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