Iron Age settlement found on Ridgeway
5:30am Tuesday 20th May 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
EXCAVATIONS of Ridgeway Farm have thrown up the remnants of an Iron Age farming settlement more than 2,000 years old.
During an initial survey of the site ahead of the construction phases, which began last year, Wessex Archaeology discovered evidence of a burial site, rubbish pits and a limestone quarry.
Excavations of the newly discovered site are almost complete before they will be built over by housing developers.
A spokesman for Wessex Archaeology said in its report: “To the south-west of Ridgeway Farm, the fieldwork revealed a concentration of intercutting Early to Middle Iron Age rubbish pits containing deliberately deposited occupation debris including pottery and animal bone.
“To the south, a second concentration of features which could relate to quarrying or tree clearance, were dated to the Romano-British period.
“Extensive modern land-fill recorded in the north-west of the site comprised contaminated clay.
“The area may have been quarried for limestone prior to the modern infilling.
“Archaeological features in the south-west of the site define areas of Early to Middle Iron Age and Romano-British activity.
“The character of the features and the range of artifacts recovered are of local significance.
“Pottery fragments recovered from the topsoil overlying these features and from the topsoil in adjacent trenches were dated to the Romano-British and possibly Saxon period and are important in defining the extent of a proposed archaeological mitigation area.
“The archaeological remains were encountered immediately below the topsoil and would be directly impacted by any future development.”
Kevin Fisher, chairman of the Shaw Resident’s Association, pointed out this is the latest example of housing developers ploughing through sensitive areas of land.
“It is a sad indictment of the country we live in where ‘progress’ means a tragic disregard for our environment, be it sensitive land at Moredon Bridge or an Iron Age burial ground at Ridgeway Farm,” he said.
“In approving the 50 houses at Moredon Bridge, the Inspector argued that it is such a small piece of sensitive grassland that the impact will be inconsequential. Why can’t a similar argument be used the other way around?
“Wiltshire and Swindon will build about 60,000 houses over the next decade. While we do not know how extensive the find is, if the build at Ridgeway Farm was to be reduced by just twelve houses to allow for the preservation of the archaeological site, it would equate to just 0.02 per cent of the total house build in the county. That is an inconsequential number.”
A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said: “The archaeological investigation work at Ridgeway Farm has been continuing for several months and we have now decided to extend the project to cover a wider area.
“The investigation work began on land where the second phase of homes is set to be built and we are now extending the area for the project by 0.5 hectares to the north and north west of the area where we have been focusing.
“The work is being carried out by specialist contractors and we will be updating residents with information about their finds on-site in future editions of our newsletter on Ridgeway Farm, which is being distributed to homes around the area of the site and is also being posted on our website.”
- DISCOVERIES are being made at the housing development in Coate between Day House Lane and Marlborough Road.
Headland Archaeology are leading an archaeological dig at the site, which is being run by Redrow Homes, and in the past few weeks evidence of long barrows and a Bronze Age sword have been found at the site.
Diggers moved in on the land, which has been named Badbury Park by Redrow, at the start of April and since then Headland has been working with Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger, of Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre.
She said: “Two circular ditches have been found, which are the remains of ploughed out burial mounds. Everything else ploughed flat over thousands of years. There was a broken, bent sword in the terminals of where the mound used to be.”
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