English Iron Age settlement near Godney, 5 km/3 mi northwest of Glastonbury, Somerset, in the Somerset Levels. Occupied from around 150 BC to AD 50, the lake dwelling was sited in the former marshy seas around Glastonbury Tor, and constructed on an artificial island of wooden piles. At its greatest extent the village contained 18 round houses, supporting about 200 people.
Peaty wetland soils have preserved numerous artefacts indicating a prosperous Celtic society; finds include jewellery, pottery, cooking utensils, and farming, hunting, fishing, and weaving implements, many exhibiting the influences of La Tène culture. The Glastonbury Lake Village Museum is housed in the 15th-century Tribunal, Glastonbury.
The settlement was discovered in 1892 by Arthur Bulleid, and a couple of smaller satellite sites have also been identified.
Development The Somerset Levels have been inhabited during the summer months (the dry season) since Neolithic times. Numerous hunting trails, travelling, and trading routes across the marshes have been detected. The Sweet Track, an ancient raised trackway from Shapwick to Westhay, passing 6 km/4 mi to the west of Glastonbury, has been dated to 3806–7 BC by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), making it the world's oldest known road. The Glastonbury lake village developed from a very small summer settlement, established in about 150 BC, expanding to accommodate a maximum of 18 dwellings. Remains of round houses found on the site indicate numerous phases of rebuilding, the huts having a life expectancy of around 35 years. Rising water levels in about AD 50 caused the site to be abandoned. The marshes have since been artificially drained.
Culture Two major trade routes influenced the village, evidenced in the unusually high standard of decoration on pottery found at the site. Links with the Atlantic sea route from Spain and Brittany to Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland are indicated by Breton fleur-de-lis designs; while the central trade route of the Southern Belgae, across southern England from Gaul, brought La Tène styles. The community was wealthy, producing a surplus which enabled the acquisition of traded goods. Activities included sheep rearing, weaving, fishing, hunting, and interaction with other local settlements. Its kitchen middens (refuse heaps) indicate the consumption of a large amount of pelican, now extinct in Britain.
Related Credo Articles
The largest area of lowland wet grassland and grazing marsh in England (650 km2) in an area of peat and reedbed liable to both marine and freshwater