On the eve of a construction project in Heimberg, the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern (Switzerland) conducted a salvage excavation in the autumn of 2023. While the investigation barely yielded new findings about a planned Roman site, it did reveal the remains of a previously unknown Bronze Age settlement.

During the three-month investigation in Schulgässli in Heimberg, various settlement remains were documented over an area of almost 1,000 m²: in addition to a horizon of use with a very high proportion of hearth stones and a (relatively) large quantity of Bronze Age pottery, several post positions and pits were also found.

Two of these pits were filled to the brim with hearth stones, meaning stones that had been shattered by intense heat. They could have served as heat accumulators for cooking or heating and are a typical find from the Bronze Age.

Other pits could have been used for extracting clay. Clay was an important raw material at the time and was used, for example, in house construction for plastering wattle walls or making pottery.

A package of clay layers up to 35 meters thick in the excavation area fits into this context.

As evidenced by some much younger extraction pits, this clay deposit was also later exploited by the well-known potters of Heimberg from the modern era. A brick factory excavated in Heimberg in 1964 provides similar evidence for the Roman period.

The Heimberg site is part of a series of new Bronze Age discoveries between Thun and Bern in recent years.

For example, since 2014, it has been known that remains of pile-dwelling houses are also preserved in the lower basin of Lake Thun, opposite Schadau Castle.

Rescue excavations in Thun-Schoren, Richigen, and Kehrsatz/Chlywabere have also revealed extensive Bronze Age settlement remains. The new Bronze Age sites demonstrate the importance of the Aare Valley as a habitat and transportation route between the Alps (passes) and the Swiss plateau.


Kanton Bern

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