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22 June 2010
Iron age hill fort to be excavated in England

Permission has been given by English Heritage for the first excavation in 40 years at the Scheduled Monument at Burrough Hill in Leicestershire (England). Archaeologists hope to gain understanding of how the hill forts fit into the community life in the Iron Age, 3000 years to 2000 years BP. According to John Thomas, one of the directors of the site, "This is a remarkable opportunity to examine Leicestershire's finest hillfort. Hillforts are enigmatic monuments and have rarely been scientifically excavated. Although some work was carried out at Burrough Hill in the 1950s and 1960s this was very small scale. With our work we hope to solve some of the mysteries of these monuments".
     Excavations have uncovered a massive stone entrance, cobbled road and a timber gateway to the fortress with post holes, which was more similar to an enclosed village. There are round houses with the walls and pits that may have been used to store grain. Roman artifacts found at the location reveal that the fort may have been in use for over 800 years.
     According to Dr Patrick Clay of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, "We have found an amazing amount of information about life in the Iron Age in Leicestershire over the past 20 years but these have mainly been from examining small farmsteads and a few larger undefended settlements. The big gap in our knowledge has been how these large defended hillforts fitted into the picture. Did they serve as market centres for surrounding farms or were they a tribal leader's capital - or both? This work may help to provide some of the answers."

Sources: 24 Dash (17 June 2010), BBC News (20 June 2010)

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