Egham: A Late Bronze Age Settlement and
Waterfront by David Longley and Stuart Needham
LARGE quantities of bronze metalwork, particularly that of the Later Bronze Age, have been recovered over the years in the course of dredging the Thames. This material has consistently attracted the atten tion of local antiquaries, but the con centration of material is difficult to explain purely as a result of dredging and local interest. Thus other explana tions have been sought. Some have suggested votive deposition in re sponse to an increasingly damp clim ate. Others have attempted to explain the material in terms of riverside settle ments which have been eroded away, but this has proved difficult to sub stantiate. Recently, however, at Egham on the western fringe of sub urban London, a series of excavations have taken place on sites whose recog nition owes much to the keen surveil lance of a local amateur, David Barker, and these have shed consider able light on Later Bronze Age settle ment in the region with wider impli cations for the southern British Bronze Age in general.
The recent excavations have all been due to the M25 orbital motorway which is scheduled to cross the River Thames at Runnymede alongside the existing A30 bridge. On its approach the motorway has all but obliterated Petters Sports Field, just 400 metres south of the river, and it was here that the first major excavation took place. Trial trenches excavated in 1972-73 in the course of a Pre-construction survey of the route established prehistoric occupation (Johnson 1975). A stone mould for casting socketed axes (see opposite) perhaps gave the first indication of the potential importance of Late Bronze Age activity on the site (Johnson & Needham 1974), and Martin O'Connell on behalf of the Surrey Archaeological Society later undertook the excavation of part of the field scheduled for re-development. Activity was revealed from many periods, with the Late Bronze Age best represented. Post holes and pits were recognised within an area bordered by a large ditch. After some considerable silting which may indicate that the ditch had fallen out of use, a bronze hoard datable to the Ewart Park phase, c. 8th century BC was deposited in the bottom of a still-