Black Cat Quarry – Early Bronze Age Settlement


The Early Bronze Age is renowned for the appearance of the earliest copper alloy objects and round barrows in which individuals were buried with distinctive Beaker pots, Food Vessels or Collared Urns. The discovery of settlements dating to this period is uncommon.

Besides the scatter of Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic flintwork across the site, there was a small number of Neolithic features in the northern part of the site, including a shallow inhumation grave radiocarbon-dated to around 3850BC and four pits with Impressed (Mortlake Bowl) and Grooved Wares, one of which was dated to around 2400BC. To the south was a rare and significant discovery of an Early Bronze Age settlement, a report on which has been published in the Spring 2022 edition of PAST – the newsletter of the Prehistoric Society:

Clusters of over a dozen pits, post holes and a circular feature interpreted as an occupation ‘floor’ were excavated. These features produced over 200 fragments of Beaker and Early Bronze Age pottery, flint implements, animal bone fragments comprising mainly cattle and the charred remains of cereal grains and hazelnuts. Two samples of charred material were radiocarbon-dated to 2215–2030BC and 2135–1945BC.

The remains reflect a farmstead established in the late 3rd millennium BC which spanned at least a 500 year timeframe, potentially with shifts in the focus of settlement over time. The settlement appears to have ended in the 15th century BC at a time when the level of ground water at the site was rising, which may have contributed to the abandonment of the site. The occupation ‘floor’ was deliberately backfilled. A copper alloy side-looped and socketed spearhead was placed in the backfill, which is likely to have been deliberate, as spearheads of this type are often found in ‘watery’ contexts elsewhere in south-eastern England.

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