Runnymede Bridge Late Bronze Age site

Various episodes of excavation were carried out at Runnymede Bridge including trial trenching, salvage and controlled excavation in advance of the M25 construction between 1972-80, and research excavation by Stuart Needham for the British Museum from 1984 onwards. Finds included a large amount of pottery, and bronze artefacts including part of a spearhead and socketed axe fragment, pins, “buttons”, rings, a possible pommel and two pairs of tweezers, amber beads, spindle whorls, a loom weight and worked bone objects. Post holes and wattle and daub spread were also found. It is possible that climatic deterioration was responsible for the riverside site being abandoned.

A double row of pile driver timber forming a river frontage contemporary with the settlement was also uncovered. Evidence of bronze working was also produced. The nature of the finds demonstrated that the site had been a comparatively wealthy one to which trade could have been an important consideration. A date within the 9th-8th centuries BC was suggested for the settlement.

The importance of this site lies in the demonstrable association of metalwork, pottery and organic artefacts in a settlement context, and in the evidence for indigenous metalworking on the site. Certain bronzes at Runnymede Bridge, which were almost certainly imported from the continent, draw attention to the advantageous siting of the settlement in terms of commercial and social interchange, and contribute further to our understanding of the use of the River Thames as a highway. A large quantity of Late Bronze Age material has been recovered from the lower reaches of the Thames. Ritual deposition is a possibility and a veneration of water duties in an increasingly wet climate an attractive hypothesis. However, some of this material may derive from eroded riverside settlement.

For Neolithic material from the site see Historic Environment Record No. 2645.

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