Who lived in North West England during the Bronze Age? Historians still have very little evidence, and some even think the North West was a Bronze Age hinterland.
But things are about to change…
Last year, we started excavating a newly discovered burial mound and have already found striking new evidence about the people who built it over 4,000 years ago. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: we’re bringing a team back to uncover the rest of it in September 2017, and YOU can be part of it!
One fine day two detectorists walked up a small hill overlooking Morecambe Bay. They had a hunch that here lay something special, and they were right: just below the surface lay an extraordinary Bronze Age hoard.
They immediately reported the discovery to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, who confirmed that this was no ordinary hill, but an impressive Bronze Age burial mound (or ‘barrow’) – a rare discovery in this region, and one that definitely warranted further investigation.
In 2016, DigVentures’ crowdfunders took up the challenge. With support from some of the UK’s most renowned Bronze Age experts, we began the first full-blown scientific excavation of a barrow in the North West in half a century.
It was delicate operation, but within two weeks we’d already found striking new evidence about its origins over 4,000 years ago. For a start, it seems that the mound may originally have been bright white and taken the form of a ring-cairn. The artefacts we found showed that mourners also brought large chunks of jet, quartz and rock crystal with them, and even flint from as far away as Scotland.
And then, right on the very top of the hill, we found something extraordinary: a large and beautifully decorated Bronze Age urn that had been buried upside-down, and sealed in place with three large stones.
Thousands of people around the world watched as our experts opened it up in the lab, and found it full to the brim with the remains of a seemingly healthy young adult, who had died, been cremated and carefully placed inside with a single stone tool. This was clearly someone very important.
But this is just the beginning. Where there is one burial, there are often others. With continued and careful analysis, we can find out if this mound was dedicated to a single individual, or whether the urn was surrounded by many more. If that’s the case, we’ll be able to learn huge amounts about who these people were, and even use the latest scientific techniques to find out where they were born and where they grew up.
If we can mobilise a second excavation, we’re confident that we can gather enough evidence to bring the long overlooked Bronze Age of North West England back to life, and begin to tell a story that spans dozens of generations.
See you in September!