The Bronze Age in Cambridgeshire

In a quarry at Must Farm in Whittlesey
excavations have been made in archaeology.
Eight boats dated between 1750–1650 BC
and a wooden wheel dated 1000– 800 BC.
From that time, two circular wooden houses found,
containing domestic articles on their ground.
The residences were made with wattle walls;
and woven, lime tree bark for their textiles.
They also used fishing traps and weirs,
bronze rapiers, swords and spears.
And, for decorative needs,
there were some small, blue glass beads.
Two kilometres away, Flag Fen was uncovered.
The Bronze Age excavated and discovered.
There they found a one kilometre causeway
built with 6000 timbers to lay.
Some were oak, which was not a native there.
What was the reason to bring those here?
Just south of those timbers’ alignment
was an area of religious intent.
Offerings there were deliberately thrown;
they had to be something of their own.
Swords, spearheads, gold earrings, brooches and pins,
hoping for some favour from the gods to win.
These offerings were all in some way broken.
To nameless gods some requests were spoken.
For 1200 years that ritual place
was used by folk from a Bronze Age race.
But when the Bronze Age came to an end,
the settlement was burned to the ground.
Mass burning was also the final destiny
of the Must Farm settlement in 900 BC.
Fires can be accidental or remnants of attack;
they do preserve artefacts we can then track.

The Bronze Age was well populated in Cambridgeshire.
There have been many interesting relics found from there.
And yet by the Iron Age many had gone
leaving behind a small population.
Over time, when places change, what can remain?
One thing that may be timeless is a name.
And in Cambridgeshire is an interesting selection still –
Warboys, Waterbeach, Littleport and Shippea Hill.
The latter two would have been at the boundary
of where the beach from The Wash used to be.
More than two hundred feet above the plain
is an extended chalk ridge which rivers do drain.
The Gog Magog Hills is the name of these heights;
from there, a good view of the plains in your sights,
crossed by a prehistoric track, the Icknield Way.
At the top is an ancient site called Wandlebury.
An adult male skeleton from a Bronze Age race
showed this might have been ritual place.
On Cambridge’s southern edge buried in the ground
a large range of artefacts in 2013 found.
There were skulls, arrowheads, a weight from a loom,
domestic finds from 1500 BC in a room.
Two settlements uncovered to dig further,
for domestic remains in East Anglia.
In 1903 in the lower Gog’s Hills
many skeletons were found in burials.
Adults’ and children’s bones uncovered.
The Water Board and cement factory decided
not to allow further excavation
and re-buried the bones of this ancient nation.
At that time this local decision
would have meant a golf course revision.
That find would have been some evidence
of a war tragedy’s resulting violence.
Possibly inhabitants of ancient Troy
giving some credence to that story.
So close to those settlements and skeletons
were remains of defences at Cherry Hinton.
More study and probing in those locations
might indicate further destinations.

In a field near Isleham, south-east of Ely,
a hoard was uncovered from 1000 BC.
Of all Bronze Age finds, it was the largest
and some of the pieces were the finest,
including swords, spearheads, arrows and knives,
armour, daggers, axes and palstaves.
There were 6500 mixed pieces,
2500 for war practices.
Sword rivets were used to display rank,
with gold – a commander in chief – to thank.
Those fittings for a commander
would be a display of silver.
Bronze was used for a regular soldier
to aim higher for something bolder.
Some pieces were rare vehicle fittings,
especially imported for fighting?
Some of the worked bronze had decoration
designed by a gifted Celtic nation.
Even a labyrinth on a shield
to show when the vanquished yield.
Many of the weapons were broken;
some booty or a war token?
No evidence of a foundry nearby
for recycling bronze metallurgy.
A hoard to protect hide and recover;
and buried there, but not for ever.
All this military equipment
had major battles as the intent.
Extreme disruption took place here
in late Bronze Age Cambridgeshire.

I have travelled to Cambridge from the southeast direction
where there are bare fields empty of population.
It is a landscape bathed in a still silence.
Was it once a place of Bronze Age violence?
It was always “wind whipped” in that area
and the sunlight had a somewhat strange glare.

So, in the realm of speculation,
where was this famous Trojan nation?
First recorded by Homer in 750 BC
who decided to write the tale, literally.

“There in the heat of love the pulsing rush of
Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible –
Magic to make the sanest man go mad.”
The Iliad

Now this would capture your attention,
so then read about the human condition.
Why give the Achaean and Trojan regiments such a long list;
also the leaders and generals and Catalogue of Ships?
Edna Leigh, who studied the stars in Kentucky
and also read the Iliad to teach the story,
believed that Homer was using recitation
to map 650 stars and 45 constellations.
The brighter the stars, the more significant the persons,
and battles denoted astronomical occasions.
The important soldiers – brightest stars – number 73,
with leader Achilles – Sirius – figuring prominently.
Ancient people watched the stars diligently,
this seems a credible interpretation by Leigh.

So, what is it that we doubt in Homer’s story
that it took place between Greece and Turkey?
There is quite a lot of discrepancy
within the geography and natural history.
A major battle would not need a fleet of ships,
when an overland attack would be more quick.
And mention of a “wine dark sea” with its tides
does not describe the Mediterranean, besides.
The distances travelled just do not add up together
and frequent wind, rain and fog are not southern weather.
Beech, poplar and willow are temperate trees.
On the fertile Trojan plain they grow with ease.
This information comes from Wilkens’ theory,
that eastern Britain was the base for Troy’s story.
He selected the area above Cambridge more specifically
with a list of Trojan rivers quite convincingly.
He did not find these rivers on the Hissarlik plain.
This is a list of local rivers and those of Homer’s name.

Homeric British
Scamandros Cam
Simoeis Great Ouse
Satnioeis Little Ouse
Rhesos Rhee
Grenicos Granta
Heptaporos (7 fords) Hiz (7 fords)
Kareos Karesdic (now dry)

There were defensive earthworks on the plain below.
Fleam and Devil’s Dykes to stop chariots, you know.
The wars were fought with horse and chariot.
The Celts fought that way – the Greeks on foot.
Recently, east of the Gogs an excavated site
had the kind of construction which just might
show that it could have been a Trojan gate,
with palisade lines, and entrance elaborate.
The area either side up there
could reach to eight kilometres square.
Troy was also called Troia and Ilium.
Who were the people who fought the Trojans?
They were named Argives – Danaans – Achaeans,
and were all ancient Celts, says Wilkens,
from northern Europe to southern Spain
who later settled in the Mediterranean.
They took names and oral history with them
to remind what had been left at home.

We do not have the practice of oral history;
it is not within our range of ability.
And, when the printed word was available,
it was not necessary to memorise a fable.
Between the events and Homer’s record
were 400 years of the spoken word.
Yes, changes to the narrative could have been made,
but not to the lists of important names played.
As well as a story of love, capture and war
was a way of remembering something more;
the names of ancestors, stars and important events
passed down through generations for remembrance.
Celtic Druids had to study by memory for twenty years
to be able to graduate successfully among peers.
They also believed that certain information
should not be available to all in their nation.
So it would not be at all surprising
to find that Homer was using some coding.

For Druids, memory was easier by recitation
and they knew how to hide information
within a story by communication,
but decoders need confirmation.
If a keeper of secret knowledge is what he did,
then it is possible that Homer was a Druid.

Wrath, anger, rage in the beginning,
together into a war were spinning.
A tale of ancient tragedy the goddess will sing
about those tribal warriors who were warring.
And that is how the story of Troy would begin
with the ancient Greek words – menis or menin.
Homer knew those events were something to abhor
and that honour and glory were also found in war.
An academic and bard with voracious memory,
he recorded events from an ancestral history.

In today’s world, the horror and devastation are seen
where constant warfare and destruction have been.
There is now a six-year war in the country of Syria;
like the defeated Troy, a scorched earth policy there.
War results in flights of refugees.
They seek peace in other countries.
They take with them their homeland memories
and hope for a time to retrace their journeys.
In 2016, wars, death, desolation and despair
are reminiscent of Bronze Age Cambridgeshire.

The only way the Bronze Age is now available
is by study and research archaeological.
By close analysis of the buried past
we now have credible clues at last.