What was life in the Bronze Age really like?

The Bronze Age began around 5,500 years ago in the present-day areas of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. It is generally believed that bronze tools and weapons were brought over to Britain from continental Europe around 2,000 BC by the Bell Beaker people (named because of their distinctive bell-shaped pottery drinking vessels); although there is no clear consensus on the date for the beginning of the Bronze Age in UK.

The Bronze Age also saw the widespread adoption of agriculture. Bronze Age farming families typically lived in a household consisted of two houses: the main living house and an out-house used for cooking or textile production. Bronze-age Britons were also skilled at making jewellery from gold.

Large megalithic monuments continued to be constructed or modified, such as the improvements made to Stonehenge and Avebury. The production of textiles meant that women worn long woollen skirts and short tunics, while men wore knee-length wrap-around skirts, or tunics, cloaks and one-piece garments, along with round woollen hats.

Copper was mined in the UK from places like Great Orme mine (North Wales) 3,500 years ago by miners using stone and bone tools. Large reserves of tin in Cornwall and Devon, meant that by around 1600 BC British tin was exported across much of Europe.

Most people find this short transitional period of human prehistory difficult to distinguish from the earlier and later ages, let alone teach and inspire knowledge in others. Ancientcraft can help explain the fascinating period, with the use of replica items (such as the bronze rapier, beaker pottery and Nebra Skydisc) and expert knowledge based on archaeological evidence.

What could be presented:

  • Why and how did bronze replace stone?
  • What was life like for the people of Bronze Age Britain?
  • Where did the metals come from: mining (malachite, tin) & smelting (extracting metal from ore)?
  • How do we know about all about the Bronze Age?
  • Who came after the Bronze Age people?
  • Where to find Bronze Age evidence in Britain?

What themes could be included:

Transition from Stone Age > Bronze Age

    • Bronze Age Societies:
      • Bell-Beaker People
    • Bronze Age Economics:
      • Trading & travel
      • Seafaring
    • Bronze Age Cultures & Technologies:
      • Daily life, food & clothing/textiles
      • Roundhouses
      • How bronze was made during prehistory
      • Bronze & stone tools
      • Hide boats
    • Bronze Age Religion:
      • Large megalithic monuments
      • Burial practices (round & long barrows)
      • Shamans
    • Bronze Age Military:
      • Bronze weapons (axe, dagger, rapier)
    • Key Bronze Age People:
      • Amesbury Archer

Transition from Bronze Age > Iron Age

native copper

What hands-on activities could be included**:

  • Bronze Age activity sheet
  • Shaman drumming
  • Pottery
  • Build a mini-Stonehenge
  • Grain grinding with a saddle-stone
  • Making string from plant fibers
  • Fire making (outdoor only)

** MUST BE REQUESTED DURING BOOKING (more activities being added during 2015)

What could be on display:

Bronze Age Tools

Replica tools and weapons made from bronze and wood. Though bronze is stronger (harder) than wrought iron, bronze was replaced by iron because it was easier to find.

 

Bronze Age Pottery

Replica Bronze Age pottery fired in open fire pits and used for cooking and general storage

 

Nebra sky disk

Replica of the 3,600 year old bronze and gold Nebra sky disk, depicting the sun, a lunar crescent and stars ,that is attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt (Germany)

 

Amesbury Archer Arrows

Replica of flint arrowheads and wrist guard found in the grave of the Amesbury Archer in 2002

 

Metal Ore

At first bronze was made out of 90% copper and arsenic to create an arsenic bronze alloy. In the late 3rd millennium BCE, 10% of tin replaced the arsenic.

 

 

Shamanism

Bronze Age shamanistic items, including a deerskin coat and bone necklaces. Based a shaman grave found in Upton Lovell Round Barrow (G2a).

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