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The Bronze Age

Tree cover of Britain reduced in the Bronze Age, though the proportion that remained is unclear 1.  Farming communities became established.  In an accessible area like Leyton woods in historic times may be land that, distant from the village centre, was allowed to be recolonised by shrubs and trees, a different mix of species from the original cover.  
A number of features and objects dating back to the Bronze Age have been found by archaeologists, where Oliver Close was later built, and also (a ring-ditch, a circular alignment of postholes and fence alignments) where the Central Line now emerges from tunnel west of the High Road, and at the Leyton Orient Football Ground. These sites are close to the marshes of the Lea Valley, on slightly higher ground, but it was Neolithic and Bronze Age tree clearance that washed soil into the Valley and made the marshes what they became 5.  Nearer the Thames crops were grown on sandy islands by 1500 BC 3, which may for a time have been preferred to the clay soil further from the river.  Islands of ground rising slightly above surrounding marsh may also have been used to pasture animals 3 particularly in the summer, and the Lea valley near Leyton might have provided such sites.  In late Bronze Age remains by the Lea near Enfield the commonest livestock bones were cattle rather than sheep, goats or pigs 6.

Reservoirs were created in the Walthamstow Marshes from 1862 but not the Leyton Marshes, and from these excavations Walthamstow can boast more prehistoric finds such as Bronze Age weapons and tools than Leyton can, though it must have shared that culture.  Wooden piles about 4 ft 6 inches deep extending along at least 200 feet were found in the Walthamstow Marshes.  (Frank Corner was the main investigator of this). Deposition of precious objects in rivers was a common ritual in Bronze Age England 4.

1  ‘The History of the Countryside’ by Oliver Rackham

3  talk by Jane Sidell, Inspector of Ancient Monuments London, English Heritage, to the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society on 13th October 2009

4  The Tribes of Britain by David Miles p100

5  Talk on ‘Pollen Analysis and Archaeology in the Thames Valley’ by Dr Michael Keith-Lucus, Reading University to London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 2nd October 2008

6  Kevin Ritchie and 15 others : ‘Environment and Land Use in the Lower Lea Valley c 12,500 BC - c AD 600: Innova Park and the former Royal Ordnance Factory, Enfield’ LAMAS Transactions 2008