halesworth

A history of Halesworth, Suffolk, UK, through the ages.

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Volume 1



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Bronze Age - 2,000 - 650 BC

About 2000 BC another great stride was taken as man learned how to smelt and mix metals - copper, tin, gold and silver were being worked. By 1600 BC tools, weapons, utensils and ornaments were being produced in an alloy of copper and tin known as bronze, this almost replaced copper, giving the name Bronze Age to this period of technology.

Many of these metal items have been found in Suffolk, - found in hoards where they were buried for safety, or was the waste residue metal of tinkers or metalsmiths. Swords, spearheads and axes were made, with a good example of a bronze socketed axe found at Chediston. There is also a copper ring and a twisted copper wire bracelet in the Halesworth Museum which were found locally.

Flint tools and implements were still being used, together with needles, fishing hooks and harpoons which were made of bone or deer antler. Pottery was often of a better quality than earlier examples, with bowls more elaborately ornamented, using finger-tip impressions and diamond and diagonal hatching in the decoration. About 1600 BC, before the Bronze Age was under way, a group of settlers known as the Beaker People came into Suffolk, so named from the shape of their pottery. Some fragments of this have been found in the Halesworth area, and a reconstruction of a beaker with its characteristic geometric decoration has been made by Ron Manning using the coil method. This method was in use before the potter's wheel was introduced.

Bronze Age settlements have been identified in Suffolk, and a Bronze Age house at Mildenhall has been found which was 5.1m in circumference with a porch which faced south-east. These settlers used large amounts of pottery, they still worked flint, they grew cereals and flax, making the latter into a coarse linen. The average man grew to a height of 1.72m, and lived to an age of about 37 years; the women's average height was 1 .6m and she died when about 34 years old.

Aerial photographs of the Wenhaston Parish show a Bronze Age ring at the top of Star Hill, on the left of the road going down between the Village School and the Star Public House. There are also Bronze Age sites on the edge of Wenhaston just within the Thorington Parish boundary.

The dead were buried in round or long barrows, which were large mounds of earth raised above the ground. Something like 110 barrows have survived in Suffolk, with more than another 500 which have been ploughed into the land over the years, but have been identified from crop marks or aerial photographs.

In Norfolk, over a thousand such burial barrows have been located, and these, as with those in Suffolk, give us a good idea of the centres of population at that time. In Suffolk large groups are concentrated east of Ipswich, with very few in the Halesworth vicinity. Although many of the dead are buried, others were cremated, and their ashes buried in pottery urns. Some of the burials in the Ipswich to Colchester area were laid in flat cemeteries instead of barrows.


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