Butser Ancient Farm experimental archaeology centre in Hampshire (see CA 377) has added a Bronze Age roundhouse to its collection of prehistoric, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon building reconstructions. This structure is based on a Late Bronze Age roundhouse excavated last year by Operation Nightingale (a charity assisting the recovery of wounded and traumatised military personnel and veterans through archaeology) at Dunch Hill on Salisbury Plain.
The new roundhouse was built almost entirely by 33 volunteers from Operation Nightingale (above), and was dedicated by Professor Alice Roberts in October. The original archaeology consisted only of a series of post-holes set in an irregular circle, and this slim evidence inspired the Butser team of Claire Walton, Sue Webber, Phelim McIntyre, and Trevor Creighton to experiment with a variety of earth walls, designed to leave minimal archaeological traces. This reflects the original archaeology and also allows experimental evaluation of the practicality of each wall type.
‘The beauty of this project is its capacity to deliver on several fronts,’ said Trevor Creighton, experimental archaeologist and the project’s coordinator. He went on to say that, ‘It provides Butser with an immersive space in which to tell the story of Bronze Age Britain. In addition, the building features a range of approaches to the construction of earth walls and, to our knowledge, this is the only experimental study of such interpretations ever undertaken. It has already attracted considerable academic interest. Most significant of all, this important experimental and public archaeological project has been completed almost entirely by Operation Nightingale volunteers. They have not only gained new skills and archaeological insights, but have also enhanced their own well-being through their commitment to this project, often having to overcome significant personal challenges along the way.’
The reconstruction was supported by Step Together and funded by South Downs National Park Authority and the Armed Forces Covenant Positive Pathways Fund. For more on the building process, see the ‘Bronze Age Build’ blogposts at www.butserancientfarm.co.uk/rebuilding-the-bronze-age. We will be covering the Dunch Hill excavation, and the subsequent reconstruction of the roundhouse, in a future feature.