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The Bronze Age in Bedford

The Bronze Age lasted from around 1600 BC, to somewhere around 600 BC. It was preceded by the New Stone Age or Neolithic and was succeeded by the Iron Age. At this time casting and use of Bronze implements became widespread though flint tools were not abandoned straight away, the two co-existing for some time (people did not wake up one morning and think "Oh, it's the Bronze Age now, let's throw all our old stone tools away"!).

Bronze Age material and sites been found in at a number of locations in Bedford, as described by the Heritage Gateway web site. These include the following:

  • In 1946 a possible Bronze Age cemetery was noted in gravel pits  - skeletal remains, including skulls, beakers (indicative of the Bronze Age) and a flint knife were found at New Harrowden, Heath and Newnham Walls Fields by the River Great Ouse, as reported by Nicholas Thomas in Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Volume II page 21.
  • A possible Bronze Age cremation was found in the town in 1926 in a corded urn, but was later destroyed.
  • A Bronze Age miniature axe was found in the town as reported by Nicholas Thomas in Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Volume II page 32.
  • A Bronze Age spearhead was found in the town in 1933 but subsequently lost as reported by Richard Hagen in Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Volume VIII page 3.
  • Ring ditches or barrow circles were noted by O. G. S. Crawford south of the road from Goldington to Howbury Hall - which may be a reference to Bury Farm.

As noted in the piece on the New Stone Age in Bedford, Bury Farm at Goldington provided very detailed Neolithic and Bronze Age sites during a rescue excavation in 1987 ahead of developers moving in. A late Neolithic single ditched enclosure, or possibly a henge, about 25 metres in diameter with a single entrance on the south-west side seemed to have been later infilled and recut on several occasions - hazelnuts, pottery and flints being found in the ditch. A single Bronze Age cremation was found to the west of the centre as well as another in a pit.

The Bury Farm site also included three Bronze Age ring ditches visible as crop marks and a field system, again visible as a crop mark. A limited excavation was carried out which found little in the way of Iron Age or Romano-British material but plenty of Bronze Age finds.