Rare finds uncovered at Warboys excavation
- Credit: Archant
An archaeological dig at Warboys is believed to have uncovered “very rare” traces of life ranging between the fifth and sixth centuries, including the blending of early Saxon and Roman remains.
It took a team from Oxford Archeology East (OA East), assisted by volunteers, seven months to complete their excavation of the 10-acre site - which turned out to be more important than they first thought.
When archaeologists carried out an evaluation of the site, being developed by Bellway Homes, in May last year they suspected there would be extensive Roman remains and the recovery of worked antler and pottery hinted at a post-Roman presence.
But they were stunned to discover roundhouses, burials, a large corn dryer, a shrine and evidence of late Roman or early post-Roman activity.
A spokesman for OA East said: "Returning for the main excavation later that year it soon became clear that the site was very rich in later prehistoric and Roman archaeology.
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"These remains included a substantial late Iron Age settlement, containing several roundhouses which, unsurprisingly, had entrances that faced towards the east, therefore conforming with the broader national trend.
"Three crouched inhumation burials were also discovered with the absence of grave goods and these perhaps form the corporeal remains of those who lived at the settlement."
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The spokesman said that after the Roman conquest it appeared people living at the site were early adopters of Roman pottery and that the settlement had been reorganised with the establishment of a large boundary ditch and rectangular plots across abandoned late Iron Age houses.
Two trackways appeared to converge towards the west of the excavation area, into what was thought to be the centre of the community under today's football club, forming the main route in and out of the settlement.
There was "abundant" evidence of rural and industrial activities, such as the corn dryer and kilns. There were also more discoveries of human remains, including six skeletons with a north-south orientation.
The spokesman said: "It doesn't end there however, as we also seem to have stumbled upon a shrine, comprising a circular structure and an associated rectangular enclosure, within which there were three neo-natal burials.
"Other evidence for possible ritual activity included the deliberate deposition of cattle skulls within individual pits and ditch terminals."
The spokesman said there was evidence for later Roman or early post-Roman activity suggested by burials where a bead necklace and a bone carved hairpin in the shape of an axe were discovered.
"However, it is worth noting that activity dating to the fifth and sixth centuries is very rare and, whilst the evaluation produced possible fifth century pottery we'll have to wait to see what the finds specialists come up with regarding the possible continuation of occupation into this period," the spokesman said.
Archaeologists found no evidence of Saxon structures from the sixth to the seventh centuries but it was likely that the site was associated with industry or craft production during the period on the basis of recovered artefacts. After the seventh century almost all activity at the site ended and it was given over to agriculture.