Archaeologists have uncovered the most intact Bronze Age wheel ever found in the UK, at a site dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii”.
The 3,000-year-old wheel was discovered at a dig near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
Experts claim the wheel, thought to date from somewhere between 1100-800 BC, is among a number of discoveries at a farm quarry in Whittlesey that shed a new light on the lives of our ancestors.
The 3,000 year-old Bronze Age wheel (PA)
“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain,” said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England.
"The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of Late Bronze Age technology and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens 3,000 years ago.”
Archaeologists at the site in Whittlesey (PA)
The ancient wooden wheel is one metre in diameter and is so well preserved it still contains part of the axle.
Up until now, the oldest Bronze Age wheel unearthed in Britain was found at nearby Flag Fen and dates to 1300 BC. However that wheel is incomplete and much smaller.
Among the other discoveries from the dig is proof that 3,000 years ago on this spot of Fenland, a thriving community lived in homes built on stilts on a river.
It is thought the Bronze Age dwellings collapsed into the river after being destroyed by fire.
Other finds include a wooden platter, rare small bowls and jars with food remains inside, as well as Bronze Age tools.
The history-making Bronze Age wheel (PA)
Mark Knight, site director of the excavation, said they have also discovered that the Bronze Age inhabitants lived off a diet of lamb, pork, beef, barley and wheat and had trade links with communities living on dry land.
“We can tell these people were thriving,” he added.“They were not bog dwellers nor were they on the edge of their world, they were at the centre of it,” said Knight.
He added that the dig was the “first glimpse of a lost world”.
Archaeologists plan to excavate 1,100 square metres of thequarry site and are around halfway through the dig.
The findings will eventually be put on display.