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the Ancient World => Neolithic Europe => Topic started by: Gandalf on July 14, 2007, 06:31:42 am

Title: Stone Age descendents of Durham City discovered
Post by: Gandalf on July 14, 2007, 06:31:42 am
Stone Age descendents of Durham City discovered

Water works have uncovered the most significant archaeological site of ancient Britons in County Durham dating back 5,000 years. Northumbrian Water are building a new 3.5 million drinking water reservoir on the outskirts with views overlooking Durham City Cathedral and Castle. Before work began extensive archaeology investigations were undertaken.

Experts from Tyne and Wear Museums found evidence of continuous settlement on the site from 3,000BC to 300BC by stone age, bronze age and iron age man. Pottery remains and flint knives and skin scrapers were unearthed. Digging also uncovered very well preserved timbers used to shore up ditches and shaped by bronze age tools and elsewhere traces of iron age fields were found.

Samples have been sent to specialists in Florida for carbon dating. Geophysical surveys using ultrasound on the ground and trenching began on site in 2003 but findings have been kept a closely guarded secret until now.

Dr Colin Price, Northumbrian Water's Technical Director, said: "We have been able to secure the supply and quality of drinking water for future generations while discovering and protecting the ancient history of Durham's past. We are proud to have played our part in finding and protecting this very significant archaeological site. The new reservoir is being built in the area chosen for the least impact and everything has been carefully documented."

Steve Speak, Senior Keeper of Field Archaeology for Tyne and Wear Museums, said: "Trying to make sense of all the various dates from the same site is a bit of a puzzle it seems the spot was reoccupied almost continuously throughout the prehistoric period. What isn't clear is what it was actually used for it's not well enough preserved for us to say that it was a farmstead, a defensive site, a settlement or something more spiritual in nature. "It is the earliest site of its kind in Durham by a long way, and with material from 3,000BC it is the earliest settled site in the City."