Monday, November 26, 2012

Unearthing the past on A11 dualling - Roman farms


Flint workings from primitive tools dating back to 4,000BC have been uncovered during archaeological digs along the route for the Highways Agency’s A11 dualling and improvement scheme in Suffolk.

roman farms discovered in SuffolkThe finds are part of a twenty-week pre-construction survey near How Hill Tumulus and between Chalk Hall Farm and the B1106. There is evidence of settlements dating back to 1,500BC including the remains of timber dwellings, animal bones and pottery from France as well as the Nene Valley, Peterborough.
Highways Agency project manager Robert Gibson said:
“Dualling the last remaining single carriageway section on the A11 is all about boosting the economy, reducing congestion and improving road safety.
“However, in planning for the future, it’s important that we also consider the past which is why archaeological work is an integral part of what we do at the Highways Agency.
“It is important that the area’s history is recorded and preserved to help inform future generations.”
Signs of everyday life are evident from the butchered bones of cows, sheep and horses as well as fragments of tools and millstones which suggest that the area was used for agricultural purposes. Deer bone and worked antler tools also indicate that wild animals were hunted by the residents of the settlements. A small cremation cemetery and a single human burial have also been uncovered.
The wealth of pottery, bone and stone artefacts recovered so far provide significant insight into land use from the Bronze Age to Late Roman period.
Pre-Construct Archaeology is the company carrying out the archaeological work. Mark Hinman, their regional manager, said:
“It is already clear from our work so far that the A11 excavations are producing some very significant results. Thanks to the scale of the project we are able to see for the first time that the network of tracks and fields we have revealed were worked by farmers 2000 years ago. More importantly, these fields were arranged on a completely different layout to the landscape that any visitor to the area would be familiar with today.
“This project has presented us with an unrivalled opportunity to recover a wide variety of evidence on the past inhabitants for the site. Perhaps the most exciting finds from the excavations have come from the Iron Age and Roman enclosures and fields systems where we have unearthed broken pottery shards, old millstones and animal bones left over from many long forgotten mealtimes. “
The digs, which began in mid-August and are due to end next month, have been carried out alongside other advance work for the dualling scheme. Once investigations are complete the flint workings and other artefacts, including pottery and tool fragments will be donated to a local museum or placed into storage.
Preparation for the A11 dualling scheme continues to take place, including completion of the track upgrade on the Elveden Estate, fencing and site clearance, ahead of main construction which is due to start in January next year.

Contributing Source : Highways Agency

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