L-R: An iron involuted brooch, copper alloy horn-cap, dress pin and cauldron that were found at the site.

Ancient British Bake Off? Cauldrons Fit for Feasting Found at Iron Age Settlement

(Read the article on one page)

The wealth of evidence found suggests there were many mouths being fed at an Iron Age settlement in the UK that looks to have developed into a regional center for ceremonies and feasting.

A Unique and Unprecedented Collection of Iron Age Artifacts 

A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester has announced the discovery of a unique collection of Iron Age metal artifacts found during an excavation at Glenfield Park, Leicestershire. The nationally significant hoard includes one-off finds for the region and reveals previously unknown information about feasting rituals among prehistoric communities.

As EurekAlert reports , the researchers came across a store of valuable and delightful ancient treasures at the site, including eleven complete, or almost complete, Iron Age cauldrons, fine ring-headed dress pins, an abstruse brooch and a cast copper alloy object known as a 'horn-cap', which they speculate was part of an official staff, highlighting the uncommon nature of the metalwork collection.

Iron involuted brooch ULAS. (Image: University of Leicester)

Iron involuted brooch ULAS. (Image: University of Leicester)

The conglomeration is considered to be exceptional and unequalled, as never before has an archaeological mission uncovered a treasure trove that includes such a great variety of findings in England.

"Glenfield Park is an exceptional archaeological site, with a fantastic array of finds that highlight this as one of the more important discoveries of recent years,”

John Thomas, director of the excavation and Project Officer from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services commented. He added,

“It is the metalwork assemblage that really sets this settlement apart. The quantity and quality of the finds far outshines most of the other contemporary assemblages from the area, and its composition is almost unparalleled.”

Copper alloy horn-cap ULAS. (Image: University of Leicester)

Copper alloy horn-cap ULAS. (Image: University of Leicester)

Character of the Site in Constant Progress

The excavation works at Glenfield Park, Leicestershire, were launched back in the winter of 2013, and since then archaeologists have found enough evidence to believe that the area was inhabited throughout most of the Iron Age and Roman periods. The remains of the settlement consist of several roundhouses, enclosures, 4-post structures and pits that occupied the southern slopes of a low spur of slightly higher ground at the northern end of the development area.

“Early occupation of the site during the earlier middle Iron Age (5th - 4th centuries BC) was relatively modest, consisting of a small open settlement that occupied the south-facing, lower slopes of the spur. Slightly later in the middle Iron Age, indicated to be in the 4th or 3rd centuries BC by radiocarbon dating, the settlement underwent striking changes in character. Individual roundhouses were now enclosed, there was far more evidence for material culture, and rituals associated with the settlement involved apparently deliberate burial of a striking assemblage of metalwork,” Thomas stated in a University of Leicester report.

The interior of one of the Iron Age cauldrons (Image: University of Leicester)

The interior of one of the Iron Age cauldrons (Image: University of Leicester)

Cauldrons Indicate that the Settlement Was Used as a Host Site for Feasting

Of course, archaeologists were flabbergasted by the many cauldrons found at the site, which, according to the experts, emphasize the important role of the settlement as a possible host site for feasting, with associated traditions of ritual deposition of significant artifacts. “The cauldron assemblage in particular makes this a nationally important discovery. They represent the most northerly discovery of such objects on mainland Britain and the only find of this type of cauldron in the East Midlands,” an impressed Thomas said.

The cauldron enclosure where found to be deliberately buried. (Image: University of Leicester)

The cauldron enclosure where found to be deliberately buried. (Image: University of Leicester)

The majority of the cauldrons seem to have been purposely positioned in a vast circular enclosure ditch that surrounded a building. They had been laid in either upright or upside down positions, before the ditch was filled in, a fact that indicates that they were buried to commemorate the termination of activities associated with this part of the site. Other cauldrons were discovered buried across the site, indicating that important events were being marked over a long period of time as the settlement developed. "Due to their large capacity it is thought that Iron Age cauldrons were reserved for special occasions and would have been important social objects, forming the centerpiece of major feasts, perhaps in association with large gatherings and events,” Thomas explains as EurekAlert reports .

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Smuts house
The farmstead of General Jan Smuts on the outskirts of Pretoria, is reputed to be one of the most haunted private homes in the country, according to Mr Mark Rose-Christie, raconteur and social scientist, who regularly takes brave visitors on a tour of haunted sites on his mystery ghost bus.

Human Origins

Map of sites and postulated migratory pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.
Most people are now familiar with the traditional "Out of Africa" model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research

Ancient Technology

The School of Athens
Much of modern science was known in ancient times. Robots and computers were a reality long before the 1940´s. The early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Levant used computers in stone, the Greeks in the 2nd century BC invented an analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism. An ancient Hindu book gives detailed instructions for the construction of an aircraft –ages before the Wright brothers. Where did such knowledge come from?

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article