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Spaciotempo solution key in bid for Bronze-Age time capsule

29 October 2015

ARCHAEOLOGISTS turned to a modern building solution to help ensure the success of work on a unique prehistoric site.

A nine-month excavation is expected to shed fresh light on life in Bronze Age Britain and experts from the University of Cambridge’s Archaeological Unit are using an innovative structure provided by temporary buildings specialists Spaciotempo to make certain the site is fully protected from the weather.
The project is taking place at a quarry in Cambridgeshire, where a settlement has been found dating back to between 1000 and 800 BC.

Wooden buildings, which straddled a river, are believed to have been destroyed in a fire 3,000 years ago, but archaeologists say much of their contents have been preserved three metres below ground.
Excavation of the Must Farm site is expected to reveal an extraordinary time capsule of the period – providing a testimony to the lives of people in the Bronze Age unique to the UK.

The work is a joint project involving the University of Cambridge, Historic England and Hanson Building Products.
And the experts, including members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Historic Environment Team, were determined to ensure the site is properly protected during the crucial excavation work.
Mark Knight, director of excavation for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: “This is a site of international importance and our findings will provide a fascinating insight into the lives of people in Bronze Age Britain.
“The sudden abandonment of the settlement, caused by the fire, followed by exceptional preservation provided by soft silt in the river means there is a real possibility of very exciting discoveries.
“The dig is expected to take nine months and we wanted to be certain the site would not be affected by weather during that time.
“Sun and wind would have a detrimental effect by drying out the mud, while rain and snow during the winter would be bad news for us too.
“So rather than use tarpaulin sheets, which can always be blown away, we wanted stronger and longer-lasting protection and Spaciotempo came up with the perfect solution.”

The company provided a made-to-measure temporary building which stretches across the entire site.
The 3m-high building, which measures 25m x 45m, also houses a gangway to enable visitors, expected to include schools and societies, to watch the findings come out of the ground as it happens.
Mr Knight added: “The temporary structure is a bespoke design so it’s absolutely ideal and just what we wanted.
“The site is on the edge of a quarry pit and runs across a river, so the project created something of a problem, but Spaciotempo gave us everything we asked for.”

Scott Jameson, managing director of Spaciotempo, said: “Our buildings can be used for a huge variety of applications and projects like this are a great illustration of their versatility.
“They can be installed over almost anything and on any type of ground.
“The lay-out and topography of the archaeological site provided a real challenge, but we worked closely with the team to come up with a bespoke solution that met all their needs.”

Findings from the excavation will eventually be displayed at venues throughout Cambridgeshire including Peterborough Museum.
The archaeologists will also produce a major publication together with an online resource detailing the finds.

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