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Bronze Age Houses In Cambridgeshire Dubbed 'Pompeii' Of Britain Reveal 3,000-Year-Old Secrets

12/01/2016 10:02 GMT | Updated 12/01/2016 12:59 GMT

Archaeologists have uncovered what is being described as "an extraordinary time capsule", in what is tipped to be the "best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in Britain".

The circular wooden houses, built on stilts, form part of a settlement at Must Farm quarry, in Cambridgeshire and reveal lost secrets of life in the region 3,000 years ago.

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Overhead view of the round house and surrounding wood mass supplied by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit

Rich discoveries have been found at the site where a fire had destroyed the posts, causing the houses to fall into a river.

Items found range from pots with meals still inside and clothing.

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An earlier test trench at the site, near Whittlesey, revealed small cups, bowls and jars.

Archaeologists said the discovery of "exotic" glass beads that formed part of a necklace "hinted at a sophistication not usually associated with the Bronze Age".

Beginning in August with the removal of two metres (6ft) of earth, the dig run by Cambridge University's Cambridge Archaeological Unit also exposed a well-preserved palisade fence made of ash trees, wattle walls and the remains a roof.

More finds are expected when the charred, collapsed roof beams are removed to expose the inside of the dwelling.

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An image showing all structural elements currently revealed at Must Farm by Archaeologists

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, which is jointly funding the excavation with land owner Forterra, described the settlement and contents as "an extraordinary time capsule".

He added: "A dramatic fire 3,000 years ago, combined with subsequent waterlogged preservation, has left to us a frozen moment in time, which gives us a graphic picture of life in the Bronze Age.

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A fragment of what was described as an 'exceptionally well-preserved weft-twined textile'

This site is of international significance and its excavation really will transform our understanding of the period."

The site director Mark Knight said: “It doesn’t feel like archaeology any more, it feels like somebody’s house has burned down and we’re going in and picking over their goods.”

Knight also told the Guardian he was full of excitement about the excavation, which he compared to a bronze age Pompeii.

Cambridge