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13 July 2009
Secrets of Bradford hill fort under the microscope

Described by one archaeologist as the unluckiest hill fort in Wiltshire (England), the Iron Age past of Budbury in Bradford on Avon remains to this day shrouded in mystery. Local historians have been trying to unlock Budbury's secrets ever since eminent archaeologist GJ Wainwright uncovered evidence of a substantial hill fort in the area, which is now developed into housing, dating back to as early as 600 BCE. Wainwright believed he was on the verge of uncovering a burial mound, so the discovery of the hill fort, thought to cover up to six acres of land, came as a complete surprise.
     This month, Bradford on Avon Museum will host a three-week long exhibition charting the history of Budbury, which will include 16,000 pieces of Iron Age pottery, as well as needles made out of bone and bronze fingerings, discovered during Wainwright's excavation on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes. To coincide with the exhibition, two excavations will be carried out from July 20 - one in the grounds of Budbury Manor, where it is hoped to find evidence of the hill fort's outer ditch, and the second in the Wine Street area.
     Mr Canham, who was Wiltshire's county archaeologist for 30 years, is behind the exhibition and the excavations. He said: "It's not a big archaeological dig but it will confirm if there is Iron Age evidence in that area. It will be small pieces of work, two test trenches, to see what is in the ground. Talking about the probable reason for a hill fort being located at Budbury, Mr Canham said: "The county people have this reputation of being pretty war like. There are about 50 hill forts in the county and they are very, very defensive and have several banks and ditches and few entrances. I think a lot of it was showing off and power. It's tribal rivalry."
     The Budbury exhibition will will run until August 2 at Bradford Museum, above the town's library in Bridge Street
     
Source: Wiltshire Times & Chippenham News (8 July 2009)

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