Evidence for the earliest securely dated use of broomcorn millet in Britain is detailed in a newly published article in Antiquity. A single pit containing a mixed assemblage of charred plant remains, including broomcorn millet, was discovered by Oxford Archaeology during the excavation - commissioned by RPS on behalf of Taylor Wimpey East Anglia - of a middle–late Bronze Age settlement at Old Catton on the outskirts of Norwich.

Cultivation of millet, a fast-growing, drought-tolerant crop that originated in China, has previously been confirmed for late Bronze Age continental Europe, but until now the earliest occurrence in Britain has been in Roman-period military or urban contexts, where grains have been interpreted as food imports. Radiocarbon dating of the Old Catton assemblage returned a date of 910–800 cal BC for the millet itself, pushing use of the crop in Britain back by a millennium and is the first proper archaeological evidence here for its cultivation.

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(Banner image of broomcorn millet from Old Catton courtesy of Catherine Kneale, Pitt-Rivers Laboratory for Archaeological Science, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge)

View of Old Catton, showing the middle-late Bronze Age features