The Bronze Age

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Jugs Grave burial mound, Inwood

Remains of the Bronze Age Jugs Grave burial mound, Inwood, Monkton Farleigh


The Bronze Age in Britain is the period of prehistory between about 2,500 and about 800 BC which is characterised by the introduction of making and use of tools, utensils and weapons of bronze and closed with the coming of the Iron Age. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. In the Wiltshire area the Bronze Age is the period when round burial barrows were made.

DNA analysis of the remains of Bronze Age people shows that there were two mass migrations into Britain during the period. The first migration, which marked the beginning of the period about 4,500 years ago, came from as far away as the steppe grassland plains of east Europe and central Asia. These people brought new technologies, especially the making of bronze tools and weapons.  They soon nearly overwhelmed the earlier Neolithic population and contributed 90% to the DNA of the people of Britain, including paler skin, hair and eye colour. The second wave of immigration, in the Middle and Late Bronze Age, was gradual between 1,000 and 875 BC and seems to have been of people from what is now France.

Round barrows covering burials are known from Monkton Farleigh, of which Jugs Grave, Inwood is the best known and traces of other Bronze Age barrows are suspected elewhere. Other features in Inwood may also date from the same period.

Some of the features in the landscape of the upland area of the Bradford Hundred that were brought to light by the Museum’s LiDAR survey probably date back to the Bronze Age.


Bronze Age gold

A Bronze Age ‘sun-disc’ made from thin gold sheet, decorated with an impressed pattern. It was found in the excavation of Jugs Grave by Guy Underwood in the 1940s. It has recently has been donated to the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes to join other Bronze Age gold items in the Gold from the Time of Stonehenge gallery. This is a photograph of a replica in Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery.

Bronze Age tools and weapons made of bronze have been found in the area, including a bronze knife blade found in Wingfield in 2010, but, unfortunately, none has so far come to Bradford on Avon Museum. An Early Bronze Age flat axe and a palstave axe-head in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, Devon may have been found in the Bradford area.