Veterans help rebuild Bronze Age rotunda
Military veterans assisted in the experimental reconstruction of a Bronze Age rotunda in an effort to learn more about the building techniques of our ancestors.
Volunteers recruited as part of Operation Nightingale are working on the Butser Ancient Farm project near Chalton, Hampshire, to recreate the building that was excavated last year at Dunch Hill near Tidworth, Wiltshire.
The Department of Defense launched Operation Nightingale 10 years ago to help recover injured and sick servicemen and veterans by involving them in archaeological investigations.
In addition to experimenting with different construction techniques with the aim of establishing the most likely method used for the original construction 3,000 years ago, veterans also learned aspects of life in the Bronze Age, from the manufacture of pottery with spears.
Archaeologist Claire Walton told the PA News Agency: “This project aims to learn more about what Bronze Age houses might have looked like, using recent archaeological evidence to produce an experimental construction at large scale.
“From poles in the ground to thatch on the roof, archaeological precision is key to a successful result and indeed many months of academic discussion and research preceded construction.
“This project aims to explore the construction of the walls that support the roof – a difficult task when several tons of thatch will end up being overhead.
“Archaeological evidence from famous sites like Danebury Hill Fort has suggested that some prehistoric rotundas may have backfilled earth walls retained by internal acacia panels.
“But it was not only the project participants who were committed to finding out whether the technique represents a likely scenario – the academic community is particularly enthusiastic about documenting the ‘mass’ earth walling technique applied here.
“And in carrying out this project, not only did Operation Nightingale enjoy creating a truly unique tourist attraction, but it also made a valuable contribution to the ongoing academic debate on how houses were built in the past and what they looked like. “
Jacqui Hutchins, a former RAF Portsmouth administrator, said the project provided a “fascinating” glimpse into the past.
The 65-year-old said: “When we made the pottery, we baked it in a hole in the ground, built a bonfire on top, but when these pots emerged it was so ridiculously exciting. , it was a misshapen pot but we had done it and we had done it like our ancestors had done, it was fascinating.
“Once you’ve been in the forces and you go there is a gap, there is a bit of a hole in your life, so being able to talk to like-minded people is great, there is not so many borders,
“It’s been a great liberation from everyday life, especially with the Covid situation right now. “
Projects coordinator Trevor Creighton said: “The archeology on which our rotunda is based was very limited – just evidence of a few post holes spread around a roughly circular perimeter.
“There is no evidence, even for the walls, or for a door, a fire, a broken pottery or anything else that could tell us how it was built or what it was used for.
Paradoxically, however, the poorly preserved and limited archeology gives us opportunities to create something unlike any of the existing buildings at Butser Ancient Farm. In fact, few, if any, experimental buildings have ever been built quite like ours. “