On a glorious day in June five members of Hallaton Field Working Group spent a fascinating day at Flag Fen near Peterborough. Hidden on the western edge of the Fens, west of Whittlesey, Flag Fen was the perfect place for the Bronze Age people to live. Wetland fields providing pasture for the livestock; nearby slightly higher land for arable farming; an abundance of fish and easy transport by boat, with the River Nene close by. In the middle of the Bronze Age period, around 1300 BC things became more difficult for them, with an increase in wetness and a rise in water levels. It became necessary to build wooden causeways in order to be able to pass from one area of slightly higher ground to another.
Our Hallaton group were expertly shown around the whole site by a well informed and helpful guide who firstly took us through their museum with beautifully preserved artefacts from the Bronze Age; spears, swords, pins, bracelets, an Iron Age bronze hand shear, looking exactly like the ones my grandfather used to shear his sheep with and that you can still see used today in the Highlands and islands of Scotland. There were also pots, bracelets, other jewellery and the earliest wheel ever found in Britain dating from c. 1300BC.
Then we passed into the Preservation Hall where we were able to see a section of the actual Bronze Age wooden walkway, preserved in a carefully controlled climate and spray system. We were all surprised to discover that there were five walkways; each one replacing a previous much used walkway. To see the timber pathways that had been in use 3,500 years ago was mind-blowing. Our thanks must go out to Francis Pryor for discovering this and pursuing it over a 30 year period.
Then it was outside to look at the topography of the area and enter the replica Bronze Age round house with our guide continuing to be a fund of knowledge.
Then on to the climate controlled room housing five dug out canoes from nearby Must Farm. As always, our entertainments secretary Jane Kennedy, had us doing silly things and laughing a lot (see below!)
We spent three fascinating hours there before adjourning to the Queens Head at Nassington for an excellent lunch at the riverside. A perfect day.