Breach Farm Early Bronze Age Wales
Over the years of being director of the Experimental Archaeology MA Programme at the University of Exeter I interacted and collaborated with a number of Outdoor Museums and Cultural Centres. One of these is St. Fagans, National Museum of Wales just outside Cardiff. It is an exceptional place, has extraordinary staff and served as a venue for a number of demonstrations and experiments for us.
Our experimental students were the first group to be allowed to stay overnight in St. Fagans new Iron Age round house replicas.
One of St. Fagans' functions is to exhibit architecture and monuments representing all time periods of Welsh history and prehistory. This has mainly been accomplished by moving endangered historical buildings from all parts of Wales into the cultural park. For time periods where no buildings survive they make archaeologically documented constructions. Currently they are planning to build a replica of A Bronze Age burial mound (barrow) based on one known as Breach Farm. They plan to include replicas of the artifacts that were recovered from the mound and to monitor their preservation over several decades.
Associated with cremated human remains were an incised bowl, a bronze axe, two sandstone shaft smoothers and 20 flaked stone objects including 13 exquisitely flaked arrowheads.
Through my association with St. Fagansand my known knapping expertise I was asked if I
would produce replicas of the flaked stone items. I agreed and took on the challenge; and a challenge it turned out to be. In order to produce true replicas of each point it was necessary to study and record them in minute detail. While general descriptions of the points have been published, no detailed analysis had been done.
I recruited one of my student colleagues, João Carlos Moreno de Sousa, to assist with the analysis, recording and illustration. He also contributed ideas, critique, encouragement and learned how to operate our department's XRF machine. Together we are writing an article on our project. We are also recruiting another colleague, Maria Mercedes Okumura, to perform geometric morphometrics on the points.
We identified two distinct technologies that were used to produce the arrowpoints as well as two different sources of stone. The technologies and stone types correlated except for one specimen. For replication I tried to match the stone types, technologies,forms and dimensions as closely as I could for each piece. This
Breach farm points replicas on left originals on right
was more difficult than I originally expected, but after many aborted attempts and broken pieces I managed to replicate them all. We are making detailed comparisons to document how close I came.