Where water wells up from the earth: excavations at the findspot of the Late Bronze Age Broadward hoard, Shropshire

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The earthwork is surprisingly slight and its position is unusual, for the land around it floods, even today. At the same time this work has shown that part of the interior that was excavated was free of any features or finds of artefacts. The only exception was a clay weight which may be of Late Bronze Age date. This raises the possibility that the site played a specialised role and might have been in use at about the time when weapons were buried beside the nearby spring.

Radiocarbon dates on archaeological samples

A series of animal bones from the excavation were submitted for radiocarbon dating, together with two artefacts: the bone gouge found in the pit, and the wooden ‘dagger’ from the overlying peat (table 1). The bones that were sampled were in fresh condition and quite distinct from others which had been eroded. The object of the exercise was to compare their chronology with the dates of two spearheads from the original hoard. It was also to relate their chronology to the long sequence in an adjacent palaeochannel which were sampled for pollen analysis. Sediment samples taken from its filling were also submitted for radiocarbon dating.

It was recognised from the outset that the bones could have moved vertically and horizontally as water issued from the spring. For that reason they were employed to assess the principal periods in which the site was in use and not to calibrate a clear stratigraphic sequence. The project achieved its main objective by showing that, in addition to the phases dated by the Roman pot and the Late Bronze Age hoard, there were peaks of activity in the Middle to Late Saxon phase, and again in the late medieval and early post-medieval period. There was also an Early Bronze Age radiocarbon date which agrees with the likely age of the macehead found in 2010.

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