The incredible preservation of the timber platforms is one of the outstanding features of the site. The Bradford Kaims is the only calcareous fenland in the north of England and peat the layer here provides ideal conditions for the preservation of organic materials such as the wood used to build the timber platforms. Objects usually absent from the archaeological record are present here in amazing condition and detail.
But the past is a strange world. Beyond the limited scope of our own lifetimes, we haven’t been there. We have no context and the things we find provide us with more questions than answers. What are these wonderful things emerging from the peat really for?
The Kaims Paddle?
The final days of the 2013 excavations unearthed a remarkable find. Lying on top of one of the brushwood platforms, which once extended out into the wetland, lay a wooden paddle. The preservation is outstanding. The carved handle of the paddle is not central, as would be that of a paddle used for rowing a boat, and it is thought that the paddle may have been one of the tools made and used by the people responsible for creating the burnt mounds. The paddle could have been used for moving the hot rocks used for heating the water.
Because of the paddle’s location, the same stratigraphy as the archaeomagnetically dated hearth, it would appear that this unique object may be more than 6,000 years old. As with the hearth, this is the early Neolithic period. It was decided that it would be wise to lift the paddle as soon as possible to avoid damage or deterioration to the object. The picture above shows the paddle just before lifting.
Pierced Birch ‘Artefact’
This strange, yet beautifully preserved, wooden object was discovered on top of the timber platform. A long, curved, birch object, carved into a handle at one end had been discarded, possibly because it had broken, on top of the brushwood. at the opposite end to the handle were three carved holes. At the site of the third hole the object seems to have failed; broken at this weak point.
What was this object used for? A shuttle device for weaving? A sled runner? Perhaps we will never know.
A Circular Trough?
Possibly carved from a tree trunk, this circular feature appeared right next to one of the burnt mounds on site.
Was this a trough or vessel used for heating water? It certainly is a substantial find. During excavation it readily filled with water. Was it somewhere to collect water for heating?