London, Feb 19 (IANS) The oldest ever complete wheel to be found in Britain, around 3,000 years old, has been unearthed during excavation work at the site of a Bronze Age settlement in England.
Experts from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, carrying out the dig at a site in Cambridgeshire known as “Britain’s Pompeii” said on Friday the wheel is the largest and earliest of its kind ever found in Britain.
Archaeologists have already discovered the remains of what is Britain’s best preserved Bronze Age dwellings in a river channel near the city of Peterborough, Xinhua reported.
The metre wide wheel, still fixed to its hub, was discovered sitting in sediments close to the remains of a dwelling house.
A spokesman at the unit said: “It raises a whole host of questions, mainly why is there a wheel in the remains of a river channel.”
Even more intriguing is that close by they have already discovered the remains of a horse.
Experts believe the discovery of the horse remains suggest the wheel may have belonged to a horse drawn cart.
Archaeologist Chris Wakefield said it was too early to know at the moment how the wheel was used.
In such a marshy area, boats were thought to have been the most common method of transport, confirmed by the discovery of eight dug-out canoes of varying sizes found nearby.
Duncan Wilson, CEO of Historic England, which is jointly funding the $1.6 million excavation, described the discovery of the wheel as “unprecedented in terms of size and completeness.”
“This remarkable but fragile wooden wheel is the earliest complete example ever found in Britain. The existence of this wheel expands our understanding of late Bronze Age technology, and the level of sophistication of the lives of people living on the edge of the Fens (marshland) 3,000 years ago,” he said.
The Bronze Age settlement at a site known as Must Farm, described as unique, has been preserved in silt after the round houses fell into a river during a fire.
The Cambridge Archaeological Unit, part of Cambridge University, is half way through a dig at the site of Must Farm, but they said the discoveries made will provide research work spanning some years.