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Neolithic houses unearthed at English Cemex quarry site

Mar, 13 2013


(UK)  --  Four early Neolithic houses have been unearthed by archaeologists at Cemex’s Kingsmead Quarry in  Berkshire, south-east England.

The discovery is said to be unprecedented on a single site in England. Few houses of this date have been found in England and rarely has more than one been found on a single site.

The discovery will challenge the current understanding of how people lived more than 5,700 years ago.

The excavations are part of Cemex’s £4 million (€4.65 million) archaeological programme on the site, which has been in operation since 2003.

Andy Spencer, sustainability director, Cemex, said: “In addition to extracting valuable building materials that go
into buildings all around us, quarrying has given us some wonderful archaeological finds that tell us more about our ancestors and how they lived. At Kingsmead, the scope of the finds covers thousands of years and has provoked some interesting debate about the people who lived there.”

The discovery offers an opportunity to learn more about the earliest permanent settlements in prehistoric Britain and how such sites developed.

The discoveries by excavators from Wessex Archaeology will tell more about the history of the area around the Rivers Colne and River Thames near Windsor.

“Unfortunately only the ground plans have survived as any timber would have rotted away long ago,” says Dr Alistair Barclay, Wessex Archaeology.

“However, we have a good idea of what these structures may have looked like from the many house finds in Ireland, from experimental work reconstructing prehistoric buildings, and for woodworking techniques from timber-built walkways of the same date, such as the Sweet Track, that were found preserved in the peat deposits of the Somerset Levels [County Somerset, south-west England].

“These finds add to our knowledge of life in Neolithic times and how buildings at that date were constructed.”
Pottery, flint tools, arrowheads, rubbing stones for grinding corn and charred food remains were recovered from the buildings confirming the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the approximate age of the houses.

Radiocarbon dating has been used to confirm the age of one of the houses. Further dates will be obtained for the other buildings later in 2013, on the charred remains of cereal and hazelnut shell.

By: Rashmi Kalia (ARI-C NEWS)

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