Bronze Age Wheel Discovered in the UK, Nearly 3,000 Years Old

February 19, 2016 10:47 am Last Updated: February 19, 2016 3:04 pm

Archaeologists say they’ve discovered a wheel that is nearly 3,000 years old in the United Kingdom—the oldest wheel from the Bronze age that is still intact in the U.K.

The artifact was discovered at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire, known as the “British Pompeii,” according to the BBC.

The wheel still contains its hub and dates back to between 1,100 B.C. and 800 B.C. It’s around 3 feet in diameter.

(Cambridge Archaeological Unit)
(Cambridge Archaeological Unit)

“This site is one continuing surprise, but if you had asked me, a perfectly preserved wheel is the last thing I would have expected to find,” site director Mark Knight, of the Cambridge university archaeology unit, told the Guardian. “On this site objects never seen anywhere else tend to turn up in multiples, so it’s certainly not impossible we’ll go on to find another even better wheel.”

The discovery poses challenges to our understanding of the Late Bronze Age in terms of the technology available 3,000 years ago.
— Historic England

The wheel’s discovery “demonstrates the inhabitants of this watery landscape’s links to the dry land beyond the river,” he told the BBC.

And meanwhile, “The discovery poses challenges to our understanding of the Late Bronze Age in terms of the technology available 3,000 years ago,” according to Historic England.

(Cambridge Archaeological Unit)
(Cambridge Archaeological Unit)

The site at was revealed by deep pits dug for a brick quarry at Must Farm.

In January, the Cambridge Archaeological Unit found collapsed Bronze Age homes around the same site. The structures, archaeologists say, were well-preserved despite a fire at the time.

The oldest Bronze Age wheel found in Britain is the Flag Fen wheel, which was dated to about 1300 B.C. However, it is incomplete and is smaller at less than 1 meter in diameter. In Europe, the earliest wheels date back to around at least 2500 B.C. during the Copper Age.