Bronze Age finds from Must Farm on show at museum over summer

Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum Hannah Bridgeman looking at one of the exhibits EMN-170307-184712009
Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum Hannah Bridgeman looking at one of the exhibits EMN-170307-184712009

The long anticipated Bronze Age exhibition ‘Must Farm – The Story So Far’ is open at Peterborough Museum until September 10.

Considered by experts to be one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Europe, Must Farm is on the edge of a working quarry in Whittlesey, just outside Peterborough, where a significant number of Bronze Age discoveries have been uncovered in recent years.

Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum. At the launch Alan Sadler, Chairman of Vivacity with  archaeologist Francis Pryor EMN-170605-213409009

Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum. At the launch Alan Sadler, Chairman of Vivacity with archaeologist Francis Pryor EMN-170605-213409009

In 2011, Must Farm was the site of the discovery of nine well-preserved Bronze Age longboats, as well as fish traps and metalwork within the channel of an ancient river which became the River Nene.

More recently, in 2016, Must Farm shook the national press with the story of a preserved Bronze Age settlement which was discovered there. This site was dubbed ‘Britain’s Pompeii’ by the national media due to the level of detail the finds were preserved with after over 3,000 years underground, and was also the subject of several documentaries on BBC.

This exhibition, mounted in association with Cambridge Archaeological Unit, focuses heavily on finds from the earlier river excavation. On display are a number of objects excavated from the Must Farm river site including Bronze Age and Iron Age swords, as well as a single never-before- seen Bronze Age pot from the more recent dig featured on the BBC.

The exhibition charts the exciting sequence of archaeological discoveries at the Must Farm site. This story spans from the early discovery of the Bronze Age river to speculation about what CAU’s excavation of the Bronze Age settlement discovery might be able to tell us about the unfolding story of Bronze Age life in the Fens.

Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum EMN-170307-184747009

Must Farm exhibition at Peterborough Museum EMN-170307-184747009

Visitors will also be able to walk across a highly detailed and life-sized vinyl photograph of one of the Must Farm log boats which, due to the delicate work required to restore and conserve them (the same process as was used to conserve the Tudor warship Mary Rose), are currently being cared for at Flag Fen Archaeology Park where visitors can see conservation in action, until they are ready for public display.

The Bronze Age finds at Must Farm are of course not the only Bronze Age finds in the area. Flag Fen itself is also home to the site of a giant Bronze Age causeway and platform discovered in 1982 by Time Team’s Francis Pryor and was quite likely to have been used to traverse the waterlogged Fens by the prehistoric Bronze Age people who used the ancient river at Must Farm.

Vivacity’s Exhibitions Assistant Julia Habeshaw, who is the curator of this exhibition, says: “Due to the fact that the site is a working quarry and has been re-buried, it is not possible for Cambridge Archaeological Unit to arrange for general visitor access to the Must Farm site, though they have been very diligent in arranging outreach workshops for a number of fortunate school children. For anyone interested in the fascinating story of this archaeological discovery, this is the closest that any member of the general public is likely to get to these Bronze Age artefacts in the near distant future – and our exhibition is only open for a few months so this is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of sooner rather than later.”

Complementing the exhibition is a series of events and lectures which delve deeper into the story around the Must Farm Bronze Age finds and how they have come to be displayed in Peterborough.

More information on these events can be found at www.vivacity-peterborough.com.