Evidence of a Potential Prehistoric Settlement Found in “Unique” Highway Dig

An extraordinary excavation project is currently underway in Northern England, as part of preparations for road improvement works. This fascinating endeavor has revealed a treasure trove of archaeological remains spanning different eras, with some artifacts dating back an astonishing 6,000 years.

The excavations have revealed several notable findings, including what appears to be a prehistoric settlement, a potential early medieval building, and various artifacts from the Roman era.

Excavations are currently underway on the A66, a significant road that stretches from west to east, linking North Yorkshire and Cumbria. The A66 partially follows the path of an ancient Roman road from Scotch Corner to Penrith, which has a remarkable history spanning approximately 10,000 years.

“The ancient route that the modern A66 takes through the Eden Valley and Stainmore Pass has been in existence for thousands of years, predating even the Romans who later formalized it with their own road,” shared Stephen Rowland, project manager at Oxford Cotswold Archaeology, in a press release.

According to him, prehistoric monuments, Roman forts, and medieval castles still serve as markers for important road and river junctions and crossings. The fertile valley has been home to communities since the end of the last Ice Age.

The excavation work began before the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project, which aims to widen sections of the road, was implemented.

“We are currently halfway through the excavation of hundreds of trial trenches within the footprint of the proposed project,” stated Rowland. He added, “There is still plenty of work to be done and many more discoveries to be made as we strive to uncover the history of 10,000 years of human civilization along one of Northern England’s most important routes.”

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Archaeologists have made several significant discoveries in recent months, uncovering a range of artifacts dating back approximately 6,000 years. These findings include buried layers of peat and ancient waterways, offering valuable insights into how the landscape of prehistoric Cumbria was shaped by its inhabitants.

The researchers made an interesting discovery at the site – the remains of a settlement that dated back to the Late Neolithic or Middle Bronze Age, specifically from 1600 to 1200 B.C. This settlement was composed of various features, including ditches, postholes, pits, and gullies. Additionally, the excavations uncovered a multitude of stone tools and pottery fragments, providing valuable insights into the lives of the people who once inhabited this area.

Archaeologists have uncovered an intriguing find in a different location: a potential early medieval “grubenhaus,” which is a building that is typically constructed above a large rectangular pit. What makes this discovery particularly fascinating is its unusual dimensions.

The team also uncovered proof of Roman farmsteads and small villages, which included a range of artifacts like fragments of exquisite tableware imported from present-day France and a copper alloy broach.

“We are thrilled with the discoveries made during the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project, as they offer a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the ancient history of Cumbria,” expressed Stewart Jones, the director of the National Highways A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project, in a press release.

He expressed his anticipation for further insights as the project progresses, emphasizing that these discoveries will play a crucial role in enhancing our understanding of how individuals in the past adjusted to evolving environmental conditions.

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