Aspects of bronze age metalwork in northern East Anglia
The bronze age metalwork of northern East Anglia is well known, both for its quality and quantity. The main concentration occurs along the south-eastern fen edges which are recognised as one of the primary centres of metalwork in Britain. Due to the 'wet' nature of the fenland the metalwork from the area has formed one of the main supports for the belief, over the last 25 years, in a practice of bronze age wetland ritual or votive deposition. The main theme of this work examines this important issue. The fenland material has not been isolated but is put into a regional context by the examination of other finds from northern East Anglia. Although mainly using metalwork this study is principally concerned with the meaning of the metalwork assemblage rather than individual artefact analysis. Central to the work is the collation of important information on items reported earlier, together with a wealth of hitherto unrecorded material. Closely related is a detailed analysis of the locations of finds. An attempt is also made to resolve some of the problems that are basic to artifact research, such as the reasons for the distribution of finds and their interpretation. Several problems are highlighted by these studies, such as the need to research other contemporary material and analyse the effects of both depositional and post-depositional processes. In East Anglia the most important of these, which has probably caused enormous variation in the distribution of finds has been arable agriculture, some of the effects of which are examined and analysed. Whereas previous studies have been dependent on material not necessarily representative, accurately provenanced or numerically significant, this work provides, for the first time, a relatively sound basis, allowing some significant re-evaluations of the practices, organisation and settlement patterns of society in bronze age East Anglia.