Bronze Age House Recreated at Beeston Castle

Volunteers recreate 4,000-year-old roundhouse using authentic tools at Beeston Castle

Beeston roundhouse under construction

A Bronze Age house is being reconstructed by English Heritage volunteers at Beeston Castle in Cheshire.

The volunteers have used authentic tools and archaeological evidence to recreate the house and based the reconstruction on recent discoveries at the Bronze Age settlement at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire. They've also drawn on earlier evidence found at Beeston Castle itself.

People lived on the rocky Cheshire crag long before the existing medieval castle was built, and in the late Bronze Age it was an important defended settlement and metalworking centre.

Although little visible evidence remains of this early activity, in the 1970s and 80s archaeologists discovered traces of post-holes for what was called House Six. This was a thatched Bronze Age roundhouse with walls of wattle-and-daub – a mixture of twigs, earth and clay. Bronze Age objects such as axes and knives were also uncovered during this time. 

Tools used in the reconstruction

Modern recreation

To recreate the house, a team of more than 60 volunteers come from diverse backgrounds including dentistry, farming and nuclear physics.

The 15 vertical posts of the roundhouse have been erected, with the horizontal wall plates lifted to form the framework of the house.

House Six's postholes are providing valuable archaeological evidence for the reconstruction, such as the size and layout of the building (the original house contained a hearth), the material used to make the floor, and the size of the stakes.

The volunteers are also making use of authentic tools, recording axe strikes and post-hole depths to help increase our understanding of the Bronze Age and its construction methods. 

Beeston roundhouse under construction

English Heritage curator, Win Scutt, said:

'Beeston is one of the most important Bronze Age sites in the North West of England and research over the past few decades paints a fascinating picture of a community who lived and worked there. What this project aims to do is bring that research to life – our reconstructed house will give visitors a vivid sense of the Bronze Age at Beeston.'

Luke Winter, the experimental archaeologist leading the project on behalf of English Heritage, said:

'It is so rare to have a chance to recreate a Bronze Age building where it once stood, and thanks to our inspiring team of volunteers we are making great progress. And by using authentic tools and recording axe strikes and post depths, they are helping to increase our understanding of Bronze Age construction methods.'

John Proudlove, a member of English Heritage’s volunteer team, said: 

'It is an amazing experience to be part of this project, a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about Bronze Age building techniques. It is so great to be part of such a fantastic team, all of us working to a common goal. We are building a lasting legacy.'

Roundhouse under construction

Watch the work in progress

Due for completion in October 2019, the Bronze Age house at Beeston Castle will help visitors appreciate the lives of those who inhabited the site around 4,000 years ago.

It will also provide an immersive learning experience for education groups from Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool and across the North West of England. 

Ahead of completion, visitors to Beeston can follow the progress of the Bronze Age roundhouse. Volunteers will be on hand throughout the build, talking to visitors and illuminating Beeston's Bronze Age past.

Find out more about the roundhouse project.

Discover the history of Beeston Castle.

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