Little Thetford’s Bronze Age Causeway

There is increasing evidence of high activity in the Bronze Age (3300 – 1200 BC) in Little Thetford. Finds of a flesh hook, sword, axes, pottery, dolmens and a penannualar gold money ring demonstrate this. The discovery of a large Bronze Age Causeway in 1932 is probably the reason. It is described by T. C. Lethbridge ‘Investigation of the ancient causeway in the fen between Fordy and Little Thetford’, published in Cambridge Antiquarian Society ‘Proceedings’ vol.33: 1933.

Piles belonging to the causeway were observed in 1932 in two ditches on the farm of Mr Randall of Barway. These piles were in a direct line from the present river bank and the high ground towards Fordy. Continual ploughing trouble caused by tops of the pile catching in his tractors compelled Mr Randall to set to work removing the offending objects, and as a result of the effort he uprooted a veritable forest of great stakes which were embedded in the clay. These he replaced temporarily in their respective holes, bottom upwards and projecting considerably above the ground, to show the course of the causeway. They were photographed by a Major Fowler- See below.

The resurrected causeway is shown looking towards the now demolished ‘Severn Stars’ public house, and across the river to Little Thetford were the chapel once stood.
Letherbridge cut a section in a grass field beside the ‘Severn Stars’ public house and hit the causeway a foot below the present ground. It was not the usual blue buttery clay of the fens, but boulder clay. The causeway was largely composed of decayed brushwood kept in place by occasional beams and stakes, above which was a well marked layer of fine sand. The Bronze Age people obviously had some knowledge of geology because recent geological data shows that a ridge of glacial boulder clay runs most of way from Witchford through Little Thetford to Fordy. (‘Geology of the Country around Ely’ Gallois, R. W. 1988. Mem. Br. Geol. Surv., Sheet 173).

Letherbridge also found a large part of a very coarse hand made pottery vessel and a bronze ring in the cutting.

Piles of the causeway have been found on the Little Thetford side of the river in Holt Fen, at the base of Tony Badcok’s House.