|30 May 2006
Race against time for archaeologists in East Yorkshire
Archaeologists face a race against time to excavate ancient sites found along the path of a 32-mile pipeline in East Yorkshire (England). So much has been uncovered on the route of the new Ganstead to Asselby pipeline – including an unknown Bronze Age burial mound in the Yorkshire Wolds – that workers have been drafted in from all over Europe. And with more than 100 sites which need to be excavated before the end of June they have their work cut out.
Dave Evans, archaeology manager at Humber Archaeology Partnership, is monitoring the work. He said: "There are around 50 archaeologists working now – they have bought them in from all over Europe. "We have got Polish site supervisors, Irish excavators – you name it. They have been bringing them in from wherever because they are that desperate for people. There's a national shortage of trained diggers. Most of the contractors are struggling to find enough diggers – they are working 69-hour weeks to try and keep up with pipeline construction," he added. "The archaeologists will record all the finds and structures which are within the pipeline corridor to make a permanent record of anything which will be destroyed or damaged. Because of the depth and size of the pipe and the weight of construction traffic many of the deposits on the line of the pipeline will be inevitably destroyed."
While they were expecting some interesting results, none of them realised just what would turn up. One of the most fascinating finds is that of a previously unrecorded Bronze Age barrow, or mound, on a hilltop east of Hotham. Thought to date back to the early Bronze Age, between 2100 and 1500 BCE it was later used by the Romans for their own cremations. As well as four burials there are around six cremations, and burnt bones, ash and shards of pottery have been found by diggers. Originally the mounds would have been blinding white because of the chalk used to build them and visible on the hilltops to the settlements all around. But this one was ploughed out years ago.
Archaeologists, both amateur and professional, have been digging barrows up for years. It was a local vicar and doctor who uncovered the Arras cemetery of square barrows near Market Weighton in East Yorkshire in 1816. But these days most are protected Scheduled Ancient Monuments – making the Hotham excavation particularly unusual. Mr Evans said: "Up until the 1850s and 1860s large numbers of barrows were visible as mounds. Mounds that were four foot high 150 years ago are now ploughed out."
Archaeologists have also been working on an Iron Age square barrow, found to the east of Hotham. South-west of Beverley, a large Iron Age settlement which extended over 1,600ft in length, has also been discovered, with seven or eight roundhouses and enclosures.
Source: Yorkshire Post Today (25 May 2006)
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