Back in January we talked about a remarkably well preserved settlement in Cambridgeshire that had been touted as the British Pompeii. This surprising state of preservation has yielded yet another fascinating specimen in the form of an antediluvian wooden wheel. According to the researchers, it is both the oldest and largest (and yet intact) wheel ever found from ancient Britain; which can provide some incredible insights into the Bronze Age technology of the time.
To that end, the extant wheel dates from around 1100-800 BC, thus making its almost 3,000 years old. As for its craft, the 3-ft diameter design was contrived from five separate components of solid timber that were fastened together with a reinforced hub in the middle. This entire specimen was found beside a structure which is deemed to a very large roundhouse within the Bronze Age settlement.
Now beyond the physical characteristics of this design, the archaeologists are actually baffled by the mere presence of a wheel inside a town that was located in a marshy area. As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, much like the Laketown in The Hobbit, the settlement was originally built on stilts arranged upon a water body – which in this case was a river. In that regard, the researchers have already found evidences of canoes being used for transportation. However the location of a wheel in such a settlement is perplexing enough, and it might allude that the inhabitants also traveled by land, thus maintaining connections with the dry land beyond the river.
Kasia Gdaniec, senior archaeologist for Cambridgeshire County Council, made it clear –
Among the wealth of other fabulous artifacts and the new structural remains of round houses built over this river channel, this site continues to amaze and astonish us. This wheel poses a challenge to our understanding of both Late Bronze Age technological skill and, together with the eight boats recovered from the same river in 2011, transportation.
As for other interesting finds, the archaeologists had previously excavated a wealth of smaller objects, including textiles, cups, bowls and jars – some with even uneaten meal still left inside them. But the ‘piece de resistance’ of the discoveries arguably relates to a collection of intricate glass beads that were a part of an opulently designed necklace. Such levels of exquisite craftsmanship are not generally equated with the Bronze Age artisans of Britain.