Bronze Age background

The bridges at Testwood Lakes and at Meadow Lake were built during the Middle Bronze Age, a period that archaeologists usually date from about 1,600BC-1,100BC
To set this in context:
Archaeologists divide the human occupation of Britain into various periods and sub-divisions.
The earliest is the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) which began with the first humans to arrive in Britain and leave a trace. This dates from 500,000BC-8,000BC. As the ice sheets advanced and receded during the Palaeolithic period, the climate varied from one close to present-day Africa, with hippos and elephants, to one similar to northern Canada with arctic fox and reindeer. The sea level varied: when it was low Britain was joined to the continent; when high, it made Britain an island. People at this time lived in small groups by hunting and gathering; they used stone tools and their homes were temporary shelters.
The Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age, 8,000-4,000BC) was marked by the retreat of the glaciers and a rise in temperature and sea level, which formed the English Channel and cut Britain off from the continent about 6,500BC. The stone tools were becoming smaller and more complex.
The Neolithic period (New Stone Age, 4,000-2,400BC) saw the first farming. Forests were cleared and crops planted communally in clearings. Animals were domesticated and the first pottery was made. Monuments such as long barrows (earthen mounds put over chambered tombs) and henges (open spaces enclosed by a bank and ditch) were created.
The Bronze Age (2,400BC-700BC) saw the first appearance of metals such as copper, gold and bronze. The land began to be farmed by individuals rather than communally, with field boundaries. The period saw the introduction of artefacts from the Beaker culture, marked by a new style of pottery, the use of barbed flat arrowheads, copper knives and small gold ornaments. The relative equality of the Stone Age gave way to an increasingly individualistic, hierarchical society, where individuals could amass a great wealth of objects, as seen in burials such as the Amesbury Archer. Instead of the burials of large numbers of people, often from several generations in one tomb, as seen in the Neolithic barrows, important people tended to be buried singly.
Settlements of roundhouses became semi-permanent fixtures in the landscape for the first time and warfare seems to have become more important – some people were living defensive strongholds, and the sword became prevalent. Trade in tin and copper, needed to create the precious bronze artefacts, became widespread and linked Britain closely to the continent. It is in the middle of the Bronze Age that the bridges at Testwood were built.