Cambridgeshire, Britain – Archaeologists from the UK’s Cambridge University working at Must Farm, a Bronze Age site dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii“, in Cambridgeshire have found what could be the largest and best-preserved Bronze Age wheel discovered in Britain.

The remarkable discovery of the 3000-year-old wheel has provided further information on the technologies and transport systems of the Bronze Age inhabitants of the country.

Britain’s oldest intact wheel has been unearthed at a Bronze Age site dubbed the ‘Pompeii of the Fens’. The 3,000-year-old wooden wheel (pictured) shows Ancient Britons were finding innovative ways to move across land when it was previously thought they only used transportation across rivers. Credit: Daily Mail

The 3ft-diameter (1 meter) wide wheel, which was still fixed to its hub, was discovered sitting in sediments close to the remains of a dwelling house. David Gibson from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation, said the discovery demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape’s links to the dry land beyond the river.

“This site is one continuing surprise, but if you had asked me, a perfectly preserved wheel is the last thing I would have expected to find. On this site objects never seen anywhere else tend to turn up in multiples, so it’s certainly not impossible we’ll go on to find another even better wheel,” said the site director, Mark Knight.

3000-year-old discovery raises questions

A spokesman at the unit said the discovery raises a whole host of questions. For instance, archeologists ask themselves why the wheel was sitting in sediments close to the remains of a dwelling house.

Another major intrigue comes as the result of another discovery they had made close to the wheel. The archeologist had already found the remains of a horse in a nearby location which may mean the wheel could have belonged to a horse-drawn cart. But, Chris Wakefield, from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit said it was too early to know at the moment how the wheel was used.

It was previously believed that boats were the main method of transportation used In such a marshy area. The discovery of eight dug-out canoes of varying sizes found nearby confirmed the theory.

Must Farm previous discoveries

The Must Farm quarry site has uncovered a number of hidden treasures over the years. In 1969, a dagger was found in the area and more recently, some bowls still containing remnants of food were found in 2006.
Another recent discovery was roundhouses, built on stilts. A fire destroyed the posts, causing the houses to fall into a river where silt helped preserve the timbers and contents.

The Must Farm wheel is perhaps the most complete and best preserved found so far, but it is not the oldest to be discovered in the area. An excavation at a Bronze Age site at Flag Fen near Peterborough uncovered a smaller, partial wheel dating to about 1,300 BC.

That wheel was thought to have been part of a cart that could have carried up to two people.

Source: BBC