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

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Intact deposits

Beneath the peat was the edge of a pit, much of which had been destroyed by the well. The surviving part measured 800mm by 900mm and was 350mm deep (fig 8). It did not extend further north than the well, suggesting that it could never have been more than 2m long. The steep sides of the pit were dug into alluvial clay that underlay the peat, whilst its base cut into sandy gravel deposits. A spring was found to issue through the sandy gravel adjacent to the pit, causing the excavation to fill with water.

The pit contained two deposits: the lower was up to 200mm thick and consisted of dark grey charcoal-rich silt with occasional fragments of quartz. The upper level was up to 150mm thick and consisted of yellow-brown stony clay. A bone gouge (fig 8), dated to 1220–1010 BC, was discovered near the base of the primary fill, but there were no other finds from this context. Stones, one of them a piece of flaked quartzite, and smaller pieces of quartz lined the top and sides of the pit; others were distributed around its edge. Several small fragments of cremated bone were found beneath them. A thin layer of peat covered the stones to the south of the pit and contained a number of animal bones, one of which has been dated to AD 1430–1530.

The top of the pit was covered by 0.4m of peat (context 1031). Approximately 0.2m above it a wooden knife or dagger was recovered, lying horizontally in the peat. It has been dated to AD 1540–1640. Next to it, but dug from a higher level, was a small stake- or post-hole. It postdates the deposition of the blade but its date and function are unknown.

A few other areas remained undisturbed. Excavation on the higher ground to the east of these deposits was uninformative, but a flint core trimming flake was found on its surface. Five metres to the west of the pit there was a second peat-filled hollow. In this case the turf and topsoil lay directly over a deposit of peat which was only 80mm thick. It contained no animal bones, but a flint burin was recovered. Beneath the peat the natural alluvial clay was excavated by machine to a depth of a metre.

Lastly, there was a palaeochannel 25m to the west of the pit. A deep machine trench was excavated, from which pollen samples were taken. On the edge of the channel animal bones were found a metre down in the peat. One of them returned a date of AD 1300–1375.

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