Archaeologists reveal treasures found on farm

This Is Wiltshire: Amelia Belsher and Mary Beck, of Taylor Wimpey Amelia Belsher and Mary Beck, of Taylor Wimpey

ARTEFACTS shown to the public at Ridgeway Farm Archaeology Day on Saturday have revealed the farm was the home of a small, poor family more than 2,000 years ago.

As Wessex Archaeology began to wind down its operation at the site, Taylor Wimpey invited residents to see what had been found during pre-construction surveys.

Excavations have revealed a self-contained farmstead dating from the Iron Age, which ran from 700BC to 100BC.

The remains of at least five roundhouses have been found.

It is likely only one or two of the houses stood at any one time and the settlement was home to a single family group.

The finds have been described as a dot on the map by Wessex Archaeology’s project manager Andy Manning, who said the find is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but possibly a lead for future excavations in the area.

“It would appear it was a poor, little family who lived here. They weren’t rich and it wasn’t a fancy building,” he said.

“Their main activity would appear to have been farming and weaving, which, bearing in mind this was back before the Roman invasion, was slightly unusual.

“It’s important we have been given the time by Taylor Wimpey to get the full extent of this site out of the ground.

“Not much is known about the immediate area around here and Purton, but this will help us fill in the gaps. We need to get the dating of this settlement sorted still. We don’t know whether it was early, middle or late Iron Age.”

The roundhouses were surrounded by numerous storage pits, which contained domestic waste such as pottery and animal bone fragments.

In addition items used for weaving and spinning were found, as well as quernstones for grinding grain into flour.

A small number of shallow Romano-British pits, dating from 43AD – 410AD were also found in the northern part of the site. These contained a large quantity of local and imported pottery, and personal objects, including a copper brooch. However, no evidence of buildings from this period has yet been found.

Common Platt resident Lynda Wright, said: “I totally disagreed with the decision to build on here, but it’s good they have excavated the site. It’s been fascinating to see how people might have lived on this land so long ago.”

Ben Stirling, a 33-year-old teacher at Ann Edwards Primary School, in South Cerney, who lives in Taw Hill, said: “It’s interesting to see how much history is on your doorstep. It would have been nice to have been able to bring the schoolchildren down here to see what’s around them.”

Mary Beck, Taylor Wimpey’s project manager at Ridgeway Farm, said: “Taylor Wimpey tries to be a developer that works with the communities it develops within. We wanted to bring in those people who had opposition to our development to see what we had found and show them we have saved what was here before building.”

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