The Bronze Age is the second principle period of the Stone Age (Stone-Bronze-Iron). It is an era characterised by the production and trade of bronze, which is made by smelting copper and tin ore. In Britain the period spans from 2100 – 700 BC. It is also characterised by immigration, with new people arriving into Britain from the continent.
During the Bronze Age there were dramatic changes to Britain’s climate with the weather becoming wetter and less clement. This led to populations moving off the hill tops and down into valleys. Hill tops had provided easy to defend locations but the wetter weather made them harder places to live. The valleys were more attractive and fertile, offering new economic opportunities. Early forest clearances are associated with livestock ‘ranching’. People lived in tribes but the tribes were becoming more complex with social hierarchies developing. This is reflected in burial rituals which appear to have become more individual rather than communal, as had previously been the case with the use of burial chambers.
There is very little evidence of the Bronze Age in Gower in terms of settlement or agricultural practices. What evidence does exist comes in the form of burial sites. Even though much of the Bronze Age lifestyle remains a mystery, the tributes of Bronze Age people to their dead ancestors have stood the test of time.
Many of the uplands in Gower have Bronze Age cairn fields upon them. These fields comprise small groups of stones known as cairns. Their role is not fully understood. They have two main interpretations but no evidence has come to light to support either. They may be the result of clearances of rocks and stone from the land so that the land could be cultivated for agriculture – however, there is no evidence of nearby land being laid out for agriculture. Another theory is that the cairn fields are associated with long lost rituals.