|Archeologist Mike Emery admires his Bronze
One of the most important archaeological sites
in Britain is emerging in Poulton near Chester.
The site's ancient finds and Hollywood connections
make it no ordinary dig.
Inside Out joined the archaeological team in a remote
field by the River Dee as they searched for a Roman villa.
But events took an astonishing turn when instead they
unearthed the first Bronze Age burial site ever to be discovered in Cheshire.
Archaeologist Mike Emery who is leading excavations at
the site says he was gob-smacked by the finds. "We’ve gone back about
3,500 years, and we’re actually one of the first people to stand on this
|One of the skeletons
discovered in Poulton
Another factor distinguishing this ordinary-looking field
from most archaeological sites is its connection to Hollywood - the dig
is part funded by actor Ralph Fiennes, star of Schindler’s List
and The English Patient.
Ralph is Archaeologist Mike Emery’s adoptive brother.
Mike says, "Ralph’s probably put in about a third of the cost over the
last eight years."
"This year we’ve actually managed to run the site totally
self-financing, purely through the training of students and others who
want to learn about archaeology."
Mike’s been digging at the site for the last eight years
with the support of the local farmer.
believed to date back to 5,000 - 6,500 BC
He’s helped to establish the site as an independently
run charitable trust. It’s called the Poulton Research Project. Their
aim is to preserve the finds and make archaeology accessible to everyone.
Mike runs a Saturday club on the site for the public,
through West Cheshire College, and uses the summer months to train students.
The Geophysics on the site are run by Alan Brown from
This summer’s Bronze Age discovery has unearthed human
graves, animal bones and items including pottery and flint artifacts believed
to be parts of tools dating back to 5000 -6,500 BC.
|The medieval tile found by Gerry
Image copyright: The
Poulton Research Project
Prior to this summer’s dig, the team’s first major breakthrough
was finding the remains of a Medieval chapel and cemetery.
It dates back to the twelfth century and was run by Cistercian
monks who also had an abbey near to this summer’s dig.
The excavation of the site originally came about because
of farmer Gerry Fair. He first discovered a medieval tile in his field
more than twelve years ago.
Gerry says, "We dug down about a yard and found a magnificent
ceramic tile and several teeth. That started me going and I was then looking
for someone to come and do a proper investigation."
|Gerry Fair recalls
discovering the site
History influencing today
The site is not only providing a fascinating insight
into the Bronze Age.
Cheshire Police’s Crime Scene Investigations unit believe
the site and Mike’s geophysics skills can help train some of their forensic
officers in areas such as locating shallow graves at scenes of crimes.
Mike says, "Every year has produced something new and
this year has proved no exception."