Bronze Age
2500 BC
c. 2500 - Now the Bronze Age, and the use of multiple-chambered tombs, begins.  Silbury Hill, the largest
man-made mound in Europe, has also started development.  The "Beaker Folk" (named because of pottery
beakers found) start utilizing single burial sites, unlike other Bronze Age groups.

c. 2500-1500 - Most of Britain's stone circles were constructed during this time. To read specifically on
Stonehenge
, click here.

c. 2300 - Avebury Henge, the largest of Britain's stone circles, is built.

c. 2000 - Metal objects are created throughout Britain at this time, sometimes copper, sometimes copper and tin
(which makes Bronze) and sometimes with arsenic thrown in.  Pins and fasteners included in the "grave goods"
(what people buried with the dead) give evidence of the use of woven cloth.  The inner ring of blue stones at
Stonehenge is erected at this time.  This is also around the time when the Bronze Age came to Ireland.  Click
here to learn more about
Bronze-Age Ireland.

c. 1800-1200 - Cultural control starts to shift from religious leaders to metal manufacturers.  First influx of Celts
from the mainland; these are Halstatt culture Celts versus the Le Tene Celts of the Iron Age.

In Scotland, there is a deterioration in climate leading to the development of peat bogs in the uplands.

c. 1500 - Communal Farms, with houses separated from the fields by walls, start to become prevalent in Devon
and the upper lands of Wales.  Stone circles start to fall into disuse and burial mounds are no longer built.  
Fashion at this time dictated that people were to be buried in flat cemeteries or near older stone monuments.

c. 1200-1000 - It is the warrior class who at this point wielded the most power within Bronze Age societies,
replacing local manufacturers' dominant position.

In Scotland, swords and shields are now manufactured and there is a marked increase of defensible sites.  

*
NEW An article on May 16, 2006 in The Scotsman shows that some of the changes in the cultural landscape
may be related to geology.  In 1156 BC there was a major volcanic eruption in Iceland, which lead to 18-20
years of no summer in Scotland.  (The evidence for this climactic change comes from tree-rings. ) The
population would have moved east, since there were no crops, etc with their current climate on the west coast.  
The pressure on the land and resources, and the stability of the non-migrant population, probably had a
considerable impact on the development of a warrior class.  The actual change to a warrior focused society is
evident from a variety of archaeological evidence, influencing everything including jewelry design.

c. 1000 - Hillforts (earth works located on top of hills) along with farmsteads (the buildings and adjacent grounds
of a farm) start to appear.  There is an increased focus on ornamental goods.

c. 800 - The beginning of the first Celtic spread into the area
Silbury Hill
Traditions of Bronze
Age Peoples
One interesting habit
was to dump large
amounts of a person's
valuables in bogs.  No
one has really figured
out why.  It could be
they were grave goods,
it could be they were
parts of a sacrifice or it
could be the bogs were
just garbage dumps.  
Personally, I think it
relates to sacrifice.
Stonehenge at
dawn from within
the circle
Now what is the big deal about Bronze?

Now are you wondering what is so special about
Bronze to make it a new era?  Well, learning
about manipulating metal allowed the
production of axes, daggers and other
innovations.  Imaging having to kill an animal for
you and your family to eat.  Although stone
tools make these activities easier than bare
hands, a knife or axe would make killing and
dividing an animal that much easier again.  Now
that you have saved time to feed your family,
you have enough free time to innovate.

Using the same techniques to make bronze,
gold starts to be used for ornamentation.
Avebury Henge and the Red Lion Inn
(The only B&B I know of located in the
middle of a stone circle!)
How do you make bronze and what can you do with it?
Bronze is a mixture of copper and, usually, tin.  Early Bronze Age cultures tended to hollow out flat molds, to make axes or sheets of the
metal to hammer into place.

As any Bronze Age progresses, they learned to make daggers and such by hollowing out 2 stones to put together, leaving a spot to
pour in the hot metal.

Later on, a wax mould would be made of the desired figure, and clay placed on top of the wax.  Once the clay had the desired shape, it
was heated and the wax then melted away.  The remaining clay mould was used for making bronze items, chipping it away once the cast
was set.  This is called The
Lost Wax Technique.  

I make a point of explaining this, because for years I heard the Lost Wax Technique referred to, but never described.  I thought it was a
technique that was lost, and couldn't understand how my teachers even knew to talk about it!
Late Bronze Age Sites
By the time you get to the Late Bronze Age (c. 1000 BC) the earlier stone megaliths
were abandoned in favor of pit burials and throwing grave goods into rivers, springs
and bogs.  This implies that the religious focus in the area turned from Solar/Lunar
based to Earth based.
Bronze Age Settlements

Circular timber houses begin to appear in Scotland during this time.  By the later Bronze Age, settlements start to become enclosed, and
thus defensable.

Equestrian equipment starts appearing in the Late Bronze Age, suggesting that horses were not domesticated until this time.