Archaeologists find preserved Bronze Age wooden well

Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology have uncovered a well-preserved Bronze Age wooden well in Oxfordshire, England.

The discovery was made during construction works for the Benson Relief Road in compliance with planning conditions to ensure archaeological finds are recorded.

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John Boothroyd, Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology, said: “When investigating what appeared to be a standard pit for the site, the archaeological team started exposing the remains of a preserved wooden post driven vertically into the ground.”

Excavations revealed that the posts formed the uprights of a wattle structure lining the edge of the pit, which have been well-preserved due to the soil conditions being waterlogged.

The timber structure was digitally recorded, before being carefully dismantled by hand for removal to the Oxfordshire Museum Service.

Samples of the preserved wood have been sent for further analysis to indicate the type of wood used in the construction. Excavations also found pieces of struck flint, animal bone and pottery used for storage and waste.

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Previous studies of the area around Benson and as far as Wallingford have revealed traces of Bronze Age activity and settlement.

“Despite the extremely challenging conditions, the team were able to expose and fully record the well. The specialist soil samples collected will also help establish what the surrounding landscape would have been like, and the intensity to which it was settled, when the well was actively being used.”

Councillor Judy Roberts, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Development Strategy, said: “This find gives fantastic insight into the area’s past land use. It is thought the well may have been used for agricultural irrigation purposes for settlements nearby. Archaeological surveys like this are an important part of the process of delivering construction schemes. They help us identify and understand past residents of the area and record them for future generations.”

Header Image Credit : Oxford Archaeology

Sources : Oxfordshire County Council

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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