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19 August 2011
Iron Age causeway preserved in peat bog

A team of archaeologists from the University of Birmingham (England) have been excavating in the wetlands of the East Anglian Region of the UK, around the River Waveney. They found the remains of a well preserved wooden causeway, 4 metres wide, leading right up to the banks of the river. In fact, the wood was so well preserved that tool marks could be identified. The causeway was traced for over 500 metres away from the river, matching two others on the other side of the river.
     By using tree ring evidence the structure was dated at approximately 75 BCE which, if verified, dates it at more than 100 years before the Roman invasion. The find is unusual in the degree of preservation of the timber. A member of the team, Kristina Krewiec, a researcher at the University of Birmingham, is quoted as saying "Instead of getting post holes, we're getting the posts that would have gone in them. We're understanding more about the technology and skills that went into these sort of things".
     But what are the reasons behind the building of the causeways? The obvious one is to provide a safe way to move around the treacherous wetlands, and maybe to mark tribal boundaries. A more speculative theory is that they were spiritual, providing a means of getting to the river to make offerings and gifts to the gods, but this was probably just a by-product.

Edited from BBC News (16 August 2011)

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