MP’s bid to make Must Farm and Flag Fen world class tourist site

Final press visit to Must Farm bronze age ssite EMN-160713-130635009
Final press visit to Must Farm bronze age ssite EMN-160713-130635009

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson has led calls for Flag Fen to be turned into a world renowned tourist and education centre following incredible 3,000 year old discoveries at Must Farm.

He revealed he has already been in meetings with organisations including Cambridge University and The British Museum to discuss the plans, which it is hoped would attract Lottery funding of up to £3 million.

Final press visit to Must Farm bronze age ssite EMN-160713-130720009

Final press visit to Must Farm bronze age ssite EMN-160713-130720009

Mr Jackson said: “We need to make people aware that Flag Fen can be a nationally significant tourist attraction - we need to showcase all that has happened at Flag Fen and Must Farm.

“Must Farm has been accurately described as the Pompeii of the Fens, and we are looking for support from Heritage Lottery to fund a proper visitor centre.”

Last week it was revealed the dig at Must Farm, located five miles away from Peterborough near Whittlesey, had been finished after archaeologists found an incredibly preserved settlement in a quarry.

The settlement included five round houses, Europe’s finest collection of Bronze Age fabrics and the largest collection of Bronze Age glass ever found in Britain. The archaeologists, led by a team from Cambridge University, were also able to reveal the diet of the settlers, which included meals of wild boar, deer and pike.

Bronze Age wheel found at Must Farm archaeological dig at Kings Dyke. EMN-160218-132641009

Bronze Age wheel found at Must Farm archaeological dig at Kings Dyke. EMN-160218-132641009

Mr Jackson said: “We met with the chief executive of Historic England to discuss how we are going to put the bid together for funding, so we can display the finds.

“The meetings included Peterborough City Council, Vivacity, the vice chancellor of Cambridge University, the Arts Council, the British Museum and Historic England.

“We have a great asset, a naturally significant find - some would say the most notable Bronze Age site on our doorstep. We have to make the most of it.

“This could bring world renowned scholars to Peterborough, as well as funding, tourism and business to the local area.

Bronze Age wheel found at Must Farm archaeological dig at Kings Dyke. EMN-160218-132750009

Bronze Age wheel found at Must Farm archaeological dig at Kings Dyke. EMN-160218-132750009

“We have to put Must Farm and Flag Fen on the map. The centre would compliment the Cathedral, Peterborough Museum, Nene Park and all the other leisure and tourism assets we have. “We are looking at funding of £2m - £3m to get it started.

“When you have people like the Arts Council, Cambridge University and organisations like that, it shows this is a serious proposition, with real potential.

“People have travelled across the world to see what we have on our doorstep, and we are not exploiting it like we should be.”

While the latest finds were discovered at Whittlesey, Mr Jackson said he believed the centre should be at Flag Fen.

Bronze Age village dig at Whittlesey brick pits at Must Farm Quarry, Funtham's  Lane. Chris Wakefield with pot containing Bronze Age food EMN-161101-180905009

Bronze Age village dig at Whittlesey brick pits at Must Farm Quarry, Funtham's Lane. Chris Wakefield with pot containing Bronze Age food EMN-161101-180905009

He said: “Given we have the existing site, we should consolidate the site at Flag Fen. The site at Whittlesey is a brick pit. My colleague in Whittlesey would disagree and say put it in Whittlesey, but it is only five miles away.

“We would have to look at how people would get to Flag Fen, but that is part of planning. There are historical sites, such as Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, where it is way out in the country. It could be a mix of sustainable transport and cars.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “Must Farm is undoubtedly one of the most important prehistoric sites excavated in Britain for many years and has given us an extraordinary window into how people lived 3,000 years ago.

“Now the excavation has come to a close we are working as part of a consortium to determine the best strategy for archiving, displaying and conserving the archaeological finds so that they can be enjoyed by people for many years to come.”

The consortium partners looking at the bid are Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Vivacity, Forterra (the developer), Historic England, Opportunity Peterborough, Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Cambridge University, Arts Council England and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

In March the Peterborough Telegraph revealed artists impressions of the new plans for the new visitor centre.

Sean Nolan, business development director at Vivacity, said he hopes to see the number of visitors to the historical site increase from 10,000 to 60,000 once the works are complete.

He said: “We believe that this site is as important as Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall, and I want to elevate Flag Fen to be said in the same breath when people are talking about archaeology sites.”

The archaeologist who discovered Flag Fen, Francis Pryor, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I think Peterborough has this unique archaeological heritage.

“I would like to see Flag Fen become the museum of the Bronze Age but we now have far more than that. It’s really the story of Britain since the Ice Age.

“That’s what you’ve got and in abundance, and it’s well preserved.

“You have the earliest field system in England from 2,500BC which covers the whole of the eastern side in Peterborough.

“We have so much to be proud of in Peterborough. York has done well with the Vikings but what we have got is just as good, but five times earlier.”