Where water wells up from the earth: excavations at the findspot of the Late Bronze Age Broadward hoard, Shropshire
Richard Bradley, FSA, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES), The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading, RG6 6AB. Email: email@example.com
Jodie Lewis, The Institute of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Mullin, The Institute of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ. Email: email@example.com
Nicholas Branch, FSA, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES), The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 227, Reading, RG6 6AB. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The paper begins by considering the importance of springs as a focus for votive deposits in Bronze Age Britain. This is not a new idea, but nowhere has this association been examined by excavation of one of these features. There are important lesson to be learned from such work in Scandinavia. The point is illustrated by excavation at the findspot of a famous group of Late Bronze Age weapons, the Broadward hoard, discovered in 1867. Little was known about the site where it was found or the character of the original deposit, but a study of contemporary accounts of the hoard, combined with geophysical and topographical surveys, led to small-scale excavation which showed that the deposit had most probably been buried in a pit on the edge of a spring. Other finds associated with the spring included an Early Bronze Age macehead, a Roman pot, and a variety of animal bones dating from the Saxon and medieval periods. The latest, which has a radiocarbon date in the post-medieval phase, included a wooden knife or dagger. An adjacent palaeochannel provided an important environmental sequence for this part of the English–Welsh borderland and suggests that the Late Bronze Age hoard had been deposited not far from a settlement. A nearby earthwork enclosure was associated with a clay weight which may be of similar date. Despite the limited scale of the fieldwork undertaken in 2010, it illustrates the potential of treating springs associated with finds of artefacts on the same terms as other archaeological deposits.