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Settlement in the Early Bronze Age

2500-1500 BC

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During the Neolithic the local population had grown from hundreds to perhaps a few thousand people. This process gathered pace in the Bronze Age, which is named after the arrival of metal-workers in Britain, around 2500 BC. As the population grew it became necessary to divide-up the landscape into field systems; some of the earliest fields in England are found in Peterborough. Meanwhile North Sea levels were steadily rising and the nearby floodplain of the River Nene became permanent Fen. Animals were grazed on its lush summer pastures. Major sites of this time have been found at Fengate, Must Farm and Bradley Fen.





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Later Bronze Age Population

1500-800 BC

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By 1500 BC the lower Nene Valley and Fen-edge regions of Peterborough had become one of the most prosperous landscapes in prehistoric Britain, fertile and rich in resources. The local population was well into the thousands and there were tens of thousands of cattle and sheep grazing the elaborately arranged field systems around the Fen margins. Most of the farms and settlements were on the drier, flood-free margins of the wetlands, but a few were constructed over the water on wooden piles, such as the one at Must Farm.  





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Roman Healing Well Used

100AD

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Most of the archaeological digs in the 21st century are small digs in advance of development. One of these digs took place in Bretton before the Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre was opened. An unexpected find was a Roman Healing well and evidence of a settlement lasting around 400 years. The Eagle Wood site is directly south of Grimeshaw Wood and to the east of the Milton Estate. Originally situated within Walton parish, the area was once heavily wooded. Since the 1960s the area has been part of the Bretton township. The archaeological dig in advance of the Eagle Wood centre identified an Iron Age Settlement dating from approximately 100BC. The site continued to be used until around 300AD which was during Roman occupation of the area. Finds included coins, shoes, pots and animal bones, but most impressive is a stone-lined tank. At approximately 2.5 metres deep, the tank was probably a roman healing well. It is of national interest because of its uniqueness. Nearby, other artefacts have been discovered including an amulet, a pendant and an ice skate. An aisled barn and evidence of field systems were also discovered in the area, showing that people were living nearby. The bottom of the stone-lined tank has been left in place, but the upper stones of the tank have been incorporated into landscaping of the site. The artefacts discovered during the dig can be viewed in the reception of the Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre. Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © JThomas - geograph.org.uk/p/3021304