The Bronze Age

When we reach the Bronze Age, between 2,500 and 700 B.C., we begin to get a clearer picture of what life was like in Brook. Downland and lowland were cleared extensively and the now familiar landscape began to emerge.  It is thought that our modern villages and some of the farms are on the very spots our Bronze Age ancestors chose.

Recently, a well-preserved hurdle fell out of the cliff at Chilton Chine - its uprights interwoven, still in its own block of soil, and carbon-dated to exactly 2,000 B.C., the beginning of the Bronze Age. The hurdle may have been part of a structure for living in or fencing for a land division boundary.

Small farmsteads probably had sleeping huts, cooking compounds, workshops for weaving and other activities, as well as barns and byres. A typical farmhouse was a timber post roundhouse made of huge uprights in-filled with wattle and daub and roofed with thatch. Each farmstead housed between 15 and 29 people. They farmed crops such as barley and kept animals.

The most important community members were buried in round barrows high on the downs. Unfortunately, later generations have robbed these tombs so we have very little detail about who was buried there.  Records as early as 1237 talk about people opening up Isle of Wight barrows to search for treasure; later generations had more prosaic but even more destructive motives. A Victorian antiquarian thunders:

Men were lately digging at the side for gravel and flints, and found human skeletons side by side, almost in a circle, with their faces towards the barrow…it cannot be too much reprobated that ignorant peasants…who are unable to afford any reliable information as to what they discover…should thus invade the sanctuary of the dead under the authority of a road contractor.