Bronze Age spearhead found near Cirencester

Previous investigations have uncovered traces of human activity spanning the Neolithic to Roman periods.

Excavations at a Thames Water sewage works in South Cerney, near Cirencester, have uncovered a variety of prehistoric features and artefacts, including a rare Bronze Age spearhead.

The site lies within a wider multiperiod archaeological landscape, where previous investigations have uncovered traces of human activity spanning the Neolithic to Roman periods, including a large Bronze Age settlement made up of timber post- built structures, as well as a Romano-British farm- stead, associated field boundaries, and evidence of agricultural activity.

left Archaeologist Joe Price with his discovery: a Bronze Age spearhead.
Archaeologist Joe Price with his discovery: a Bronze Age spearhead. IMAGE: Cotswold Archaeology.

The most recent fieldwork โ€“ led by Cotswold Archaeology in conjunction with Thames Water, and undertaken in advance of the creation of a new wetland wildlife habitat โ€“ identified six post-built roundhouses dating from the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age, plus two Roman trackways and a range of pottery and animal bone. The most significant discovery, however, was a near-pristine 3,000-year-old spearhead, which was found just below the surface in a shallow pit. This feature was surrounded by an enigmatic circle of stake-holes; their precise function is unknown, but they may have formed part of an above-ground structure designed to mark the pit.

Alex Thomson, Cotswold Archaeologyโ€™s Project Manager, commented: โ€˜On the first day we were there, on almost the first machine-scrape, this beautiful spearhead popped out of the top of a Bronze Age pit. Theyโ€™re very rare to find and exceptionally special artefacts. Believe me when I say, the preservation of this one is phenomenal.โ€™

Work at the site is ongoing, and Cotswold Archaeology is working with Thames Water to examine and catalogue the artefacts, which could be put on public display at Cirencesterโ€™s Corinium Museum. The ยฃ200,000 Thames Water project that funded the excavations will culminate in the creation of around 4ha of wetland habitat for a range of amphibians, insects, and wading and migratory birds.