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Bronze Age village unearthed

PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:42 03 March 2010

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered the remnants of a Bronze Age settlement sealed beneath land earmarked for the Martlesham Park and Ride scheme.

Initial excavations carried out on the site, situated at the junction of the A1214 and A12 in Martlesham, have already found pottery and flint thought to date back around 4,000 years.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered the remnants of a Bronze Age settlement sealed beneath land earmarked for the Martlesham Park and Ride scheme.

Initial excavations carried out on the site, situated at the junction of the A1214 and A12 in Martlesham, have already found pottery and flint thought to date back around 4,000 years.

Mark Sommers, who is part of Suffolk County Council's archaeological service, said the discovery was particularly important because it provided a precise location of a Bronze Age settlement.

"We have evidence that people were living in the area during the Bronze Age, but we didn't know where until now so this find is very important, he said.

"It's rare to find such large amounts of pottery and it's quite exciting because it's so well preserved for its age.

"Suffolk and East Anglia is fairly heavily farmed and most fields are ploughed, which damages the land, but this is rare because it's been left alone."

A series of pits, thought to have been dug to dispose of rubbish, have been uncovered at the site. Mr Sommers said this provided evidence that a settlement would have been located in the area because it is unlikely the inhabitants would have traveled far to dump their rubbish.

Although the acidic nature of the soil means it is unlikely human bones and some other artifacts will have been preserved, it is hoped to discover more evidence of a former settlement through "structure foundations" and "post settings".

Mr Sommers said the discovery of Bronze Age burial grounds on other sites in Martlesham Heath and Kesgrave throughout the years had indicated a Bronze Age settlement was located nearby but this was the first hard evidence of it.

A team of around eight archaeologists from Suffolk County Council will continue their work alongside builders at the site for about seven weeks when construction of the £2.8million park and ride scheme begins after Easter.

The unearthing of the settlement is not expected to disrupt construction work as the builders and archaeologists rotate to work on different areas of the land.

The first phase of work will see a slip road joining the site added to the roundabout, leaving the archaeologists time to comb the area intended for the control building and 550-space car park.

The initial discoveries are currently being housed at the council's offices in Bury St Edmunds having been washed and cleaned. It is hoped to incorporate some of the artifacts into a display at the park and ride site when it is completed.


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