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13 June 2005
Prehistoric find sheds light on history of English castle

Archaeologists from Bristol University (England) have added 1,000 years of history to Berkeley Castle by uncovering remains of an Iron Age settlement there. The unexpected discovery was made in the kitchen gardens of the castle during a training excavation for students from the university. Parts of a ring ditch that might have circled a barrow - a mound over an ancient burial site - prehistoric flint tools and a few fragments of human bone have been found immediately below the Victorian kitchen garden's flower beds and greenhouses. Berkeley Castle is one of the most historic places in Gloucestershire, still inhabited and owned by the same family who were granted the castle in 1156.
     Dr Mark Horton, head of the department of archaeology and anthropology, who is leading the investigations, said: "To find prehistoric remains is an exciting and unexpected discovery. Very few prehistoric burials are known in the Severn Vale. It is possible that this settlement was located on a small ridge of high ground, to be visible from the river Severn, and might even had been located to help prehistoric navigation up the Berkeley Pill."
     The investigations have been undertaken by first-year students studying archaeology at the university, and will be continued in July by aspiring archaeologists who are still at school and want to find out what it is like to work on a dig. The excavations are due to be filled in, but it is hoped the artefacts will be put on display for visitors to the castle.

Source: BBC News (6 June 2005), Evening Post, This is Bristol (7 June 2005)

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