Record Details

NHER Number:2585
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bronze Age inhumation and tools


In 1958 a collection of human bones were ploughed up from near the bottom of the peat here. The bones were blackened and rather decayed and belonged to four individuals, two of whom were children. A flint flake, perforated flint pebble and a bone awl were found in assoication with these remains. Judging by the artefacts found with the bodies it was felt that the inhumation was of Bronze Age date.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 631 941
Map Sheet:TL69SW

Full description

January 1958. Casual find.

Human bones ploughed up from near bottom of peat at depth of 0.6m (2ft) from surface. Bones blackened and rather decayed. Extended skeleton of adult, two children (total of four bodies).
One flint flake, flint pebble with hole in it. Bone awl?
Finds held by KLM.
Investigated by A.S. Mottram, C.P.B. Wells.
Notes in file. See discussion in (S1).
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

1992. Documentary Research and Radiocarbondating.
This inhumation is now commonly known as 'Nancy' or the 'Southery Fen Lady'. At the time of discovery it was believed that the Fen Clay in which the skeleton was deposited underlaid Early Bronze Age deposits, and the finds associated with the inhumation confirmed that other human remains previously found at a similar horizon (such as Shippea Hill man discovered in Cambridgeshire in 1913 - S2) were likley contemporary with these Early Bronze Age deposits. Since this time, the Fen Clay transgression at Feltwell Common has been securely dated to 2700-2300BC (S6). Four other inhumations recorded in the immediate vicinity of this 1931 find believed to be contemporary but previously less securely dated have now been radiocarbon dated (see NHER 2542, NHER 2550, and NHER 2585), all dates falling within the Early Bronze Age.
These inhumations appear to be associated with an area of dense Early Bronze Age occupation on the slightly higher and drier hillocks and islands on the edge of the fen basin in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and extending northwards into the Norfolk parishes of Hockwold-cum-Wilton, Feltwell and Methwold. It has been suggested that the placement of bodies in the fen may represent a more wide-spread form of contemporary treatment of the dead which would rarely survive in any recognizable form in dry land deposits. Alternatively, the placement of bodies in wet places may have formed part of a longer and more diverse tradition of deposition which includes flint and metal objects as well as human remains.
See (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 04 March 2009.

Monument Types

  • INHUMATION (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • AWL (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Serial: 1958. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries. Vol 5. p 4.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 69 SW 17.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Bronze Age. Methwold.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Photograph: EUD, EUF1-7.
<S1>Article in Serial: Healy, F. & Housley, R. A.. 1992. Nancy was not alone: human skeletons of the Early Bronze Age from the Norfolk peat fen.. Antiquity. Vol 66, No 253, pp 948-55.
<S2>Monograph: Healy, F. 1996. The Fenland Project, Number 11: The Wissey Embayment: Evidence for pre-Iron Age Occupation. East Anglian Archaeology. No 78. pp 30, 162-7; Fig 108:B21.

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