LATE IRON AGE SETTLEMENTS

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A view along the north-west corner of the ditches of the earliest farmstead enclosure at Odell (Beds) looking west. (Beds C.C.)


Alongside the great oppida of the south and east were the open villages and farmsteads of late Iron Age Britain. Many of these have been destroyed by gravel working in the fertile valleys of rivers such as the Thames, Nene and Great Ouse. Typical of such sites is Claydon Pike, Lechlade (Glos) where the Oxford Archaeological Unit uncovered an extensive late Iron Age complex of irregular tracks and enclosures, with circular houses, barns and storage pits which continued in use into the first century AD. About AD 70 the whole area was reorganized along more formal, Romano-British lines with rectangular enclosures and straight roads, in the midst of which a shrine was set up.


At Odell in Bedfordshire a farmstead was found consisting of two circular wooden houses in an enclosure, approached by a broad droveway and set amongst rectangular fields. Water was obtained from ponds and wells. Evidence for mixed farming was provided by the bones of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and domestic fowls, and the presence of drying pits, silos and querns, together with the discovery of a wooden crook-ard type of plough. Wooden ards (ploughs without mould boards) were in use throughout the Iron Age. Many continued to have stone shares as they had done in the Bronze Age, but iron foreshares became fashionable, were more efficient and lasted much longer.

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