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Thames Valley Archaeological Services unearths Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements at Greenham dig

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Also evidence of Roman remains

Andy Taylor from the TVAS in the entranceway of one of the dwellings
Andy Taylor from the TVAS in the entranceway of one of the dwellings

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working at a housing development in Newbury have uncovered Bronze and Iron Age items.

The finds, at the site off New Road, Greenham, provide evidence of a small settlement on the land.

The team has also uncovered what is thought to be a skeleton and flagon from Roman times during the dig taking place opposite St Mary’s Church.

A group from Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) has been brought in to check the area for any ancient finds and work out whether there were any dwellings on the site.

Senior project officer Andy Taylor said: “We have been hired by the developers who will have had to have the site checked for any archaeological finds as a condition of their planning permission.

“This is a good site – we are at the top of the Kennet Valley and we know there have been settlements running all along the valley, so it was quite likely we would find something here.”

Once the topsoil and subsoil has been removed, the archaeological team look at dark patches on the surface which show where the earth has been disturbed.

Patterns start to form once the postholes have been excavated and planned.

Postholes mark the shape of any dwellings and during the course of the dig multiple roundhouses have been uncovered.
There is also a separate enclosure with two ring gullies and pits and postholes that could be part of the same settlement or a later settlement on the same land, but that won’t be known until the post-excavation process has been completed.

Of the skeleton and flagon, Mr Taylor said: “You wouldn’t normally expect to find a body buried within a settlement like this, which is why we think it might be Roman, as opposed to earlier.

“The bones are in very bad condition because the soil is so acidic, but an osteologist will take a look at them and see what they can determine – such as the skeleton’s sex and the age of the bones.

“The flagon is in the Roman style, which is why we think the bones are from that era too, but everything still needs to be properly analysed.”

The team have been working at the site since September and Mr Taylor said they expect to be finished by March or April.

He added: “We have had a lot of people walking by and asking what we are doing and usually we would have had an open day over a weekend when the public could come in and see what we are doing and learn a bit more about the dwellings that were here thousands of years ago, but unfortunately Covid put paid to that.”

If you are walking up by the site, you can see where the dig is taking place and posters with QR codes have been put on the fence, which will take you to the TVAS website where you can get details of the dig.

You can also find out more at the TVAS website www.tvas.org.uk

And you can read more about the dig in the spring edition of Out&About magazine, available from April 1.

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