Francis Pryor – What Flag Fen Means to Me

DigVentures Francis Pryor

The legendary story of how Francis Pryor didn’t so much discover Flag Fen, as trip over it on the way to the pub, has long been a source of inspiration to weary archaeologists in search of light refreshment.

And like all good tales, that Bronze Age Post grew in the telling, with meticulous excavation and scientific analysis showing that it belonged to a post alignment extending over 1Km in length, with a ritual ‘football pitch’ sized platform close to it’s eastern end.

But what of the people who made it, and what was Flag Fen’s purpose?

Taking us on a journey of voyage and discovery, Francis explains his ‘long view’ of landscape history, through the large-scale, monumental architecture of sites like Stone Henge, to the small-scale family rituals that would have taken place at Flag Fen.

By the Late Bronze Age this was a water-world, and as hard won fields disappeared beneath the rising and receding tide, profound social effects rippled outwards. Sea Henge, Must Farm, the Flag Fen Wheel and thousands of pieces of early Metal Work; it’s impossible to hear this list without agreeing that the Archaeology of the Fens really is exceptionally awe-inspiring… and as he left us with his final thought it’s also sadly under threat:

“Its there, and we can’t turn our backs on it. There’ll be not much left in 50 years, and nothing in 100. The days when we could turn around to English heritage and say ‘give me £70,000 a year for this are over. So you’re going to have to come up with new, innovative ways of financing archaeological projects, because it’s really worth it. This archaeology is SO exciting!”

Innovative ways of financing archaeology projects? Hmmn, leave it with us and we’ll see what we can come up with…

Fabulous photo by Mike Bamforth

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Brendon Wilkins

Written by Brendon Wilkins

Co-founder and Projects Director at DigVentures, Brendon heads up our field and post-ex team. Aside from field archaeology, his specialisms are cheese, tea and writing animatedly about himself in the third person.

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