Fishing and Sacrifice at Must Farm


“The river channel at Must Farm, with bronze age fish traps and weirs, logboats and many bronze objects. The roddon is raised land formed from old river silts.”

I wrote in January about the Must Farm / Flag Fen Bronze Age dugout boats at Peterborough, England when Current Archaeology covered them. Now British Archaeology has done likewise (the two mags’ staff must bump into each other at British excavations all the time judging from their coverage), and there’s a beautiful plan drawing in issue #123 (March/April). It fascinates me, as it has such relevance to my current research.

The dig at Must Farm covered a silted-up stream channel. I knew from the CA piece that there was both everyday items and votive deposits at the dig. But the BA plan shows just how intimately (or indiscriminately) they intermingled. There are sunken boats, fish traps, V-shaped fish weirs (one apparently made using an old boat), and then everything is completely dotted with sacrificial metalwork. Century after century, these people were sacrificing expensive objects made of imported metal in the same stretch of river where they fished every day! I really wish I could have a similar site to work with. And one like nearby Bradley Fen please, where a waterside habitation platform caught fire and fell into the river with its entire complement of pottery and furniture in situ!

Continued fieldwork at Flag Fen is currently the subject of an innovative crowdfunding effort. Check it out!


  1. #1 Richard Simons
    March 29, 2012

    I visited Flag Fen nearly 20 years ago. At the time, the rim of a pot could be seen where it had been buried beneath a doorway but of course no-one knew what, if anything, was in it. I’ve often wondered about it.

    I did not realize so much had been found and done there. It look slike I should put it on my list of places to visit when I’m next in East Anglia.

  2. #2 Thomas Ivarsson
    March 30, 2012

    Very interesting! Fun to see two faces from TimeTeam.

  3. #3 Ulla Rajala
    March 30, 2012

    Hmm, the overlap in coverage may also be because Must Farm is one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Britain with extraordinary preservation! The results are now also coming out. Flag Fen initiative also features at

  4. #4 Martin R
    March 30, 2012

    Richard, get the excavation report on inter-library loan and check that pot out!

    Ulla, CA and BA cover the same sites all the time. But you’re right, the whole Flag Fen area is incredible.

  5. #5 Maurice Hopper
    July 10, 2012

    When writing articles on other peoples work you have to be really carefull that you are not interpretting data based on second hand information. The plan from the BA is a 2d drawing of a 3d channel, so you lose a lot of the context. The platform site was also at Must Farm not Bradley Fen. For a better understanding of the landscape go direct to the Must Farm web site.

  6. #6 Martin R
    July 10, 2012

    You mean the metalwork deposition is not coeval with the fishing?

  7. #7 jACQUES pILLAY
    Perth Western Australia
    July 13, 2012

    My daughter Jacquie is there at the moment…and i would love to see some of her practical work she has done at Must Farm.Would love to visit next year.

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