Bronze Age Europe History

The Bronze Age in Europe succeeds the Neolithic in the late 3rd millennium BC (late Beaker culture), and spans the entire 2nd millennium BC (Unetice culture, Urn field culture, Tumulus culture, Terramare culture, Lusatian culture) in Northern Europe lasting until ca. 600 BC. In Great Britain, the Bronze Age is measured to have been the period from around 2100 to 700 BC. Migration brought new people to the islands from the different continent. Recent tooth enamel isotope research on bodies found in early Bronze Age graves around Stonehenge indicate that at least some of the immigrants came from the area of modern Switzerland. The Beaker people displayed dissimilar behaviors from the earlier Neolithic people and cultural change was important. Integration is thought to have been peaceful as many of the early henge sites were apparently adopted by the newcomers. The rich Wessex  culture developed in southern Britain  at this time. Additionally, the climate was deteriorating, where once the weather was warm and dry it became much wetter as the Bronze Age continued, forcing the population away from easily-defended sites in the hills and into the lush valleys. Large livestock ranches developed in the lowlands which appear to have contributed to economic growth and inspired increasing forest clearances.

The Deverel-Rimbury culture began to appear in the second half of the ‘Middle Bronze Age’ (c. 1400-1100 BC) to develop these conditions. Cornwall was a main source of tin for much of Western Europe and copper was extracted from sites such as the Great Orme mine in northern Wales.Social groups appear to have been tribal but with growing complexity and hierarchies becoming apparent. Also, the burial of dead became more individual. For example, whereas in the Neolithic a large chambered cairn or long barrow was used to house the dead, the ‘Early Bronze Age’ saw people buried in individual barrows it also commonly known and marked on modern British Ordnance Survey maps as Tumuli, or sometimes in cists covered with cairns. The greatest quantities of bronze objects found in England were discovered in East Cambridge  shire, where the most important finds were done in Isleham.

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