Research project: Bronze Age metalwork in the River Trent
Project details: Ritual Deposition of Bronze Age Metalwork in the River Trent
Project director: Dr Mark Pearce
This project examines the deposition of Bronze Age metalwork recovered from the River Trent and its floodplain. There are 172 bronze artefacts in this assemblage, all from the lower part (starting with the Armitage hoard). The Trent material is weighted to blades (24%) and spearheads (29%), with the exceptional presence of three shields (2%), which contrasts with the regional assemblage, dominated by axes and tools in general (61%). Both Middle (46%) and Late Bronze Age (46%) material seems equally predominant, again in contrast to the regional assemblage which has a greater percentage of Early Bronze Age (14%) material and is strongly weighted to the Late Bronze Age (50%, with the Middle Bronze Age only representing 36%). There are a number of significant finds concentrations, such as at Clifton.
The project began in 1995, when I was working on river deposition of Bronze Age metalwork in Northern Italy (Pearce 1998) and agreed with a student, Chris Scurfield, a dissertation topic regarding the deposition of Bronze Age metalwork in the River Trent around Nottingham, from the confluence of the River Soar to Hazelford Ferry (Scurfield 1996). Given the interest of the results of this work it was then published in the county archaeological journal, the Transactions of the Thoroton Society (Scurfield 1997), and I decided to extend the investigation to the whole course of the River.
In 1998-99 related dissertation topics were therefore agreed with two other students, Richard Davis, who worked on the Trent assemblage downstream of Hazelford Ferry to the Humber (Davis 1999), and Paul Edwards, who studied the metalwork from the River Trent in Staffordshire and Derbyshire (Edwards 1999). Richard's results were then also summarised in a Transactions of the Thoroton Society article (Davis 1999).
In 1999-2000 two further dissertations were prepared, Katherine Bowring on the North Lincolnshire Humber wetlands around the mouth of the Trent (Bowring 2000), and Lucy Norman, on the River Witham in Lincolnshire (Norman 2000), which provides a control population from a nearby river which is known to have a large metalwork assemblage. Lucy Norman is currently preparing an article for submission to Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.
Richard Davis and I have since presented aspects of the research on a number of occasions:
- CBA East Midlands Reports Meeting, 25 November 2000
- The University of Nottingham School of Continuing Education Local History Seminar, 27 January 2001
- 'Landscapes and Seascapes in Prehistory' conference, University of Sheffield, 8 February 2002 (with Lucy Norman)
- The University of Nottingham Department of Archaeology Graduate Seminar, 27 February 2002
K. Bowring 2000, "A study of the Bronze Age Metalwork and Possible Votive Deposits from North Lincolnshire", The University of Nottingham, Department of Archaeology undergraduate dissertation.
R. Davis 1999a, "Bronze Age metalwork from the Trent Valley: Hazelford Ferry to the confluence with the River Idle", The University of Nottingham, Department of Archaeology undergraduate dissertation.
R. Davis 1999b, "Bronze Age metalwork from the Trent Valley: Newark, Notts, to Gainsborough, Lincs", Transactions of the Thoroton Society 103: 25-48.
P. Edwards 1999, "Bronze Age Metalwork from the River Trent in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, and its links to the ritual landscape", The University of Nottingham, Department of Archaeology undergraduate dissertation.
L. Norman 2000, "Bronze Age metalwork from the River Witham valley in Lincolnshire", The University of Nottingham, Department of Archaeology undergraduate dissertation.
M. Pearce 1998, "Reconstructing prehistoric metallurgical knowledge: the northern Italian Copper and Bronze Ages", European Journal of Archaeology 1 (1): 51-70.
C. Scurfield 1996, "The occurrence of Bronze Age Metalwork in the River Trent from the confluence of the River Soar to Hazelford Ferry: an investigation", The University of Nottingham, Department of Archaeology undergraduate dissertation.
C. Scurfield 1997, "Bronze Age metalwork from the River Trent in Nottinghamshire", Transactions of the Thoroton Society 101: 27-57.