Archaeologists from Somerset County Council’s Heritage Service have been excavating the site more than 100 years after its original discovery and excavation by Arthur Bullied and Harold St George-Gray. This new season of excavations revealed a fantastic wealth of wooden structures, including the walls and floors of roundhouses and complex revetments forming the edge of the village.
No other prehistoric site in England has this amazing level of preservation, with the timbers surviving because of the waterlogged peat and clay surrounding them, keeping out oxygen and preventing decay. Samples of wood will be used for tree-ring and radiocarbon dating to solve the problem of when and for how long, the village was occupied.
The Iron Age village was first discovered in 1892 and was completely excavated between then and 1907 by Arthur Bulleid, a medical student and subsequently a doctor from Glastonbury, and Harold St George-Gray, former curator of the Museum of Somerset (then known as Somerset County Museum). Although the site is a Scheduled Monument it was not known how much of the archaeology had survived those Victorian investigations. The new work provides information on what survives and at what depth. Some of the timbers show signs of the cracking caused by shrinkage that happened when the wood dried out, probably during an extremely dry summer at some point in the past.
Gareth Watkins, English Heritage, said: “’The archaeological remains at Glastonbury Lake Village are unique in England and English Heritage are pleased to be able to support this research on assessing the condition and survival of this nationally important archaeological site which will contribute to furthering our knowledge of this site and aiding it’s future management and preservation.”
The excavation trenches have now been backfilled and there is nothing to see on the site. However some of the unique collection of objects from the original excavations can be seen at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton and the Tribunal Museum in the Tourist Information Centre on Glastonbury High Street.