Bronze Age transport route 'found during Crossrail dig'

Archaeologist holding a wooden stake carved by humans to make a trackway across the marshland, allowing hunters to access the rich floodplain wildlife Archaeologists have been excavating the Plumstead site for the past month

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Wood found during excavation work for Crossrail could be evidence of a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age transport route through London, experts believe.

Archaeologists examining a site in Plumstead have been searching for the pathway, which ran along the same route of the new rail link in east London.

They have unearthed wooden stakes which they say may have been used in the construction of the transport link.

Crossrail archaeologist Jay Carver said it was a "very significant find".

The dig team say the two wooden stakes found in Plumstead appear to have cuts made by a metal axe.

Geological clues

Bronze Age Britain

Archaeologist excavating a wooden stake thought to have been carved by a Bronze Age axe
  • In about 2,000 BC, travellers from Europe began arriving in Britain with tools and weapons made from a previously unknown material - bronze
  • True bronze is a combination of 10% tin and 90% copper - both of which could be found in Britain
  • It meant these tools and weapons could be produced and traded across the island
  • The Bronze Age lasted about 1,500 years and also saw the introduction of textile production and more widespread agriculture
  • Evidence of Bronze Age wooden track ways have been found in numerous locations, particularly in wetland locations

Source: BBC History

Mr Carver said: "We know from other sites nearby that this area was probably crisscrossed by a network of pathways.

"As excavation works for the Plumstead tunnel portal got under way our archaeologists uncovered several wooden stakes and at least two that appear to have cut marks from a metal axe.

"Although we haven't identified an actual trackway yet, the timbers are similar to those used to make the trackways and certainly show that people were in the area exploiting the woodland."

Excavation at the Plumstead tunnel entrance began last month and results of analysis carried out on items found there recently confirmed they were made by humans, a Crossrail spokeswoman said.

"From the geology in the location they were found we know it was Bronze Age construction," she added.

Tunnelling is due to begin at the Plumstead site early next year. Boring machines will dig twin 1.6-mile (2.6km) tunnels under the River Thames.

Once complete, the rail line will run from Abbey Wood in south-east London to Heathrow and Maidenhead, Berkshire, in the west.

Mammoth's jaw

The Crossrail archaeologists say the large network of timber pathways gave Bronze Age hunters easier access to the wildlife living on the area's lush wetlands.

A month-long exhibition of artefacts found during archaeology digs at Crossrail work sites across London opened on Friday.

Among the exhibits at Crossrail's visitor information centre in St Giles High Street are medieval human bones found at Liverpool Street, a rare amber find and a piece of mammoth jaw bone.

The latest finds are undergoing analysis by the Museum of London Archaeology and will not be on show.

Crossrail archaeology finds Sites along the Crossrail route where significant historical finds have been made

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