Cambridgeshire

'Important' Iron Age settlement found at Warboys dig

Roman jug, Warboys dig Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption Roman finds include this jug and human remains, including six skeletons

Iron Age roundhouses, Roman burials and Saxon pottery have been discovered in a "hugely important and hitherto unknown settlement".

The seven month-long dig in Warboys in Cambridgeshire also uncovered "a rare example" of "early Saxon occupation mingled with the latest Roman remains".

Archaeologist Stephen Macaulay said: "We almost never find actual physical evidence of this."

The settlement reverted to agricultural use after the 7th Century.

Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption The earliest finds date to the middle to late Iron Age - including several round houses
Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption And three crouched human burials

"What makes this site really significant is we have evidence of early Saxon occupation mingled with the latest Roman remains," said Mr Macaulay, deputy regional manager for Oxford Archaeology East.

Saxon pottery, beads, worked antler and metalworking residues were uncovered.

He added: "This a rare example of the Roman to Saxon transition in the east of England."

Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption A later Roman or early Saxon child was found buried with a bead necklace and bone-carved hairpin in the shape of an axe

The earliest finds include eight roundhouses, some of which date back to about 100BC, three crouched human burials and 2,500-year-old pottery remains.

The 10-acre (four-hectare) site provided evidence of Roman rural industry, including a 15ft (4.6m) corn dryer and kilns.

Archaeologists uncovered human cremations and six burials.

They also "seem to have stumbled upon a shrine" and discovered cattle skulls and a largely intact horse skeleton, which they believe could be votive offerings.

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Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption Archaeologists believe the Romans deliberately buried this horse as an offering to the gods
Image copyright Oxford Archaeology East
Image caption The experts were helped by volunteers from the Warboys Archaeology Group

The site was excavated ahead of a housing development by Bellway Homes.

Initial evaluation in May last year revealed extensive Roman remains, but the Iron Age settlement was not revealed until the main excavation began later that year.

Mr Macauley said the dig has uncovered "a hugely important and a hitherto unknown settlement".

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