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14 November 2003
Human remains at Norfolk hill fort

Fragments of human skull have been unearthed during the excavation of an Iron Age hill fort at Bloodgate Hill, South Creake, in north west Norfolk (England). The site was purchased by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust in the summer of 2003 to prevent further ploughing. Acquisition was followed by a geophysical survey that revealed a defensive ditch and an internal circular enclosure. A complete section was then dug along the main ditch and bank, revealing a strong defensive feature some four metres deep. It was here that the skull fragments were found, raising the possibility that the fort had been attacked at some point.
     The Trust was hoping to find artefacts that would date the site, which is believed to have been constructed some centuries before the Roman invasion. But the dig produced so few finds that they enlisted the help of Jean-luc Schwenningen, from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford, to undertake measurement of the electronic charge in sand particles from the ditch. Because these particles pick up charge at a constant rate from the radiation in the surrounding soil, it can be determined when they were last exposed to sunlight, to within a 10% margin. This new technique has only recently been employed on sites like South Creake. Results are expected by January.
     There are up to half a dozen other Iron Age forts in Norfolk and two at Thetford Castle and at Wareham Camp have shown defences of similar size to South Creake.

Source: EDP24 (13 November 2003)

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