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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Bronze Age linen found at Needingworth

A rare fragment of linen dating back to the Bronze Age has been unearthed at Hanson Aggregates' Needingworth Quarry, near Huntingdon, by archaeology students from Cambridge University. The delicate fabric has been donated to the British Museum where experts are looking into how best to preserve the linen. Eventually it is hoped the material will be displayed with other Bronze Age artefacts at the museum.

The find was made in a Bronze Age burial mound which has been preserved at the quarry and which is regularly used by the university's archaeological unit for training digs. The small piece of material (about 10cm x 15cm) is believed to have been a piece of a burial shroud which somehow survived the funeral pyre. It is thought to date back to between 2000-1500 BC.

Dr Stuart Needham, curator of Bronze Age artefacts at the British Museum, said the find was very significant. 'We have many examples of ornaments which have survived from this period but it is very rare to find any examples of prehistoric textiles - this is one of only a handful of small fragments found in this country.'

Needingworth's unit manager, Brian Chapman, said the find was very exciting. 'The burial mound at the site is used as a training ground for the university and we are delighted that it has revealed such a potentially important find.' 


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