Prehistoric Crowthorne, Berkshire

a thousand year landscape

ortho image of ladderBetween October 2016 and July 2017, AOC carried out excavations in Crowthorne, Berkshire, revealing significant prehistoric archaeology dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages, and showing that this location was a focus for activity over more than 1000 years.

Our investigations uncovered a series of Bronze Age wells or watering holes, where wet conditions had allowed for the rare survival of wooden artefacts: poles and planks that probably formed elements of structural support for the wells. Amongst them was a ladder (right) crafted from a tree trunk with notches cut into it forming footholds. This was found in situ in a well, where it will have allowed the Bronze Age inhabitants of the site to climb down into the well and access the water inside. Dating evidence from inside the wells shows that they were in use at different points during the Middle Bronze Age, (c.1500BC-1000BC), and may still have been open during the Early Iron Age (c.800BC-400BC).

Three Bronze Age ‘burnt mounds’ were also excavated at the site. These commonly appear as raised mounds of fire-cracked stone and other burnt material associated with rectangular ‘troughs’ and have been found across different parts of Britain and northwest Europe. Interpretations of these enigmatic features vary and include Bronze Age sweat lodges and structures associated with cooking or fabric production. Analysis of the material excavated at Crowthorne is currently underway and may provide further clues about the functions of the burnt mounds at the site.Crowthorne ladder in situ