Everyday Life

 

 

How did the people of the Bronze Age live? What did they eat? Where did they live?

 

    By the time Stonehenge was finished the hunter-gatherer culture had already been left far behind, and the people of Britain were building permanent settlements.

    Villages and small towns were situated at commercially advantageous locations, on the forks of the main rivers leading to the coast.

    Once the forests had been cut and cleared, the wide-open rolling downs of Wiltshire were ideal for grazing sheep and growing grain.

    By now different areas of the country were trading, for example the people of Wiltshire could trade grain and wool in exchange for tin from Cornwall or copper from North Wales.

    The bronze implements they made, such as swords and tools, could be traded with other settlements.

    Charcoal was always needed by blacksmiths to heat their furnaces to the high temperatures required to smelt metal ores.

    And the village people could always trade with the coast for fish and rare seafoods.

    Hides were stretched, cured, tanned and dyed to make jerkins, coats and leggings.

    The first attempts at weaving wool into cloth had already begun on hand-driven looms.

    Dyes for colouring cloth were made from plants such as woad, and just like people of the 21st century, the Bronze Age people probably took great delight in the appearance and variety of their clothing.

    Burial remains have suggested that the diet in the Bronze Age was mainly vegetarian, but very varied. It is quite possible that these people had a more nutritious diet than some of their 21st century counterparts.

    Today's engineers calculate that it would have taken 500 men to pull one of the huge sarsens across the countryside, with an extra 100 men to lay the wooden rollers in front.

    This suggests a very organised, capable society, who had reached a level of comfort and culture whereby they could look around for new endeavours, such as building Stonehenge.