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SIX Saxon skeletons dating back over a thousand years and Bronze Age round barrows have been discovered in Amesbury.

The remains, unearthed at a brownfield development site in London Road, are thought to be those of adolescent to mature

Ancient skeletons uncovered in Amesbury

Ancient skeletons uncovered in Amesbury

males and females.

Five skeletons were arrayed around a small circular ditch, with the grave of a sixth skeleton in the centre. Two lots of beads, a shale bracelet and other grave goods were also found.

The site is now being excavated for other artefacts by Wessex Archaeology led by Phil Harding from Channel 4’s Time Team.

Mr Harding said: “Given that the Stonehenge area is a well-known prehistoric burial site, it was always very likely some interesting discoveries would be made here. The fact that these round barrows were previously unknown makes this particularly exciting.

“Finding the skeletons also helps us to get a clearer picture of the history of this area. To my knowledge these are the first Pagan Saxon burials to be excavated scientifically in Amesbury.”

Contractor Mansell Ltd, part of the Balfour Beatty Group, was preparing the site for a housing development for Aster Group, when the discovery was made.

Site manager Brian Whitchurch-Bennett, said: “When we’re working in an area of historical importance we always undertake archaeological investigations to make sure that our construction works don’t damage hidden remains or artefacts. The findings within this particular site really are a one off. We’ve been amazed by the number of discoveries and the level of preservation. It’s certainly a project to remember.”

In May 2002 the Amesbury Archer was discovered during excavations of a new housing development.

The archaeologists are expected to be on site for six weeks. Footage from the site may also be included in an archaeological production for ITV’s History Channel, due to be aired in January 2014

By Elizabeth Kemble (Salisbury Journal) : http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/10428999.Ancient_skeletons_uncovered_in_Amesbury/

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Human beings were occupying Stonehenge  thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to  archaeologists.

Research at a site around a mile from  Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years  earlier than previous findings confirmed.

Research at a site around a mile from Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years earlier than previous findings confirmed

Research at a site around a mile from Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years earlier than previous findings confirmed

And carbon-dating of material at the site has  revealed continuous occupation of the area between 7500BC and 4700BC, it is  being revealed on BBC One’s The Flying Archaeologist tonight.

Experts suggested the team conducting the  research had found the community that constructed the first monument at  Stonehenge, large wooden posts erected in the Mesolithic period, between 8500  and 7000BC.

Open University archaeologist David Jacques  and friends started to survey the previously-unlooked at area around a mile from  the main monument at Stonehenge, when they were still students in 1999.

The site contained a spring, leading him to work  on the theory that it could have been a water supply for early man.

He said: ‘In this landscape you can see why  archaeologists and antiquarians over the last 200 years had basically honed in  on the monument, there is so much to look at and explore.

‘I suppose what my team did, which is a  slightly fresher version of that, was look at natural places – so where are  there places in the landscape where you would imagine animals might have gone  to, to have a drink.

‘My thinking is where you find wild animals,  you tend to find people, certainly hunter-gatherer groups, coming  afterwards.

‘What we found was the nearest secure  watering hole for animals and people, a type of all year round fresh water  source.’

He described the site as  ‘pivotal’.

Dr Josh Pollard, from Southampton University  and the Stonehenge Riverside Project, said he thought the team may have just hit  the tip of the iceberg in terms of Mesolithic  activity focused on the River Avon around Amesbury.

‘The team have found the community who put  the first monument up at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts 9th-7th millennia  BC.

‘The significance of David’s work lies in  finding substantial evidence of Mesolithic settlement in the Stonehenge  landscape – previously largely lacking apart from the enigmatic posts – and  being able to demonstrate that there were repeated visits to this area from the  9th to the 5th millennia BC.’

The Flying  Archaeologist is being shown on BBC One (West and South) at 7.30pm  tonight.

By Mark Prigg (source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2311173/Stonehenge-occupied-humans-5-000-years-EARLIER-thought–animal-watering-hole.html)

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AMESBURY’S archaeology will come under the spotlight again this weekend with a significant dig on the outskirts of the town.

A BBC crew will be filming the excavations in the area known as Blick Mead for a documentary focussing on the area’s Mesolithic past. Thousands of flints and primitive tools have already been found at the site, and with many more expected to be uncovered, Amesbury could prove to be the home of the largest collection of Mesolithic finds in the country.

Although the dig is taking place on private land, the Amesbury community will be able to learn more about the discoveries at a special event taking place at the town’s new museum.

AMESBURY’S archaeology will come under the spotlight again this weekend with a significant dig on the outskirts of the town.

A BBC crew will be filming the excavations in the area known as Blick Mead for a documentary focussing on the area’s Mesolithic past.

Thousands of flints and primitive tools have already been found at the site, and with many more expected to be uncovered, Amesbury could prove to be the home of the largest collection of Mesolithic finds in the country.

Although the dig is taking place on private land, the Amesbury community will be able to learn more about the discoveries at a special event taking place at the town’s new museum.

The dig is creating widespread interest, with a leading archaeological magazine branding Amesbury “the cradle of Stonehenge”.

“With hundreds of worked flint tools appearing in every measured collection of soil sample that is wet sieved, it looks very likely that the haul of tools and finds will, in volume alone, surpass any other Mesolithic site ever found in Britain,” said Andy Rhind-Tutt, founder of the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust.

“Experts believe this will give sound evidence as to why Stonehenge is where it is and why our ancestors travelled hundreds of miles over thousands of years to be here.”The dig is being led by archaeologist David Jacques, who is working with a team of experts and Open University students.It will feature in a special BBC programme expected to be broadcast next year, and it is hoped the discoveries will enhance Amesbury’s bid to become a tourist destination based on its historic significance.

In addition to the special opening this weekend, Amesbury Museum is also open every Wednesday from 11am to 3pm when visitors can also use the cafe and library of local history books.

By Jill Harding – http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/

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