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27 March 2013
Quarry dig unearths Neolithic settlement in Berkshire

Four Neolithic houses found in a Berkshire quarry are thought to make up one of the oldest permanent settlements ever found in England. Archaeologists unearthed the 5,700-year-old foundations at Kingsmead Quarry, near Windsor. Researchers said it was the first time more than one house from this time had been found on a single site in the Country.
     Dr Alistair Barclay, of Wessex Archaeology, which has been excavating on the site for 10 years, said: "Unfortunately only the ground plans have survived as any timber would have rotted away long ago. However, we have a good idea of what these structures may have looked like from the many house finds in Ireland, from experimental work reconstructing prehistoric buildings, and from wood working techniques from timber-built walkways of the same date."
     Dr Barclay said excavations were still ongoing and there could be more houses within the settlement that have not yet been discovered. All four houses were rectangular in shape, with the largest being 15m by 7m, (50ft by 23ft) and situated close to the River Colne. Two were constructed out of upright oak planks set into foundation trenches, while the others were built using wooden posts.
     Pottery, flint tools, arrowheads, rubbing stones for grinding corn and charred food remains, including cereal and hazelnut shell, were recovered from the buildings, indicating the inhabitants were farmers. Radiocarbon results for one of the houses showed it dated from between 3,800 and 3,640 BCE. Further tests are being carried out on the other houses but they are thought to date from the same period.

Edited from BBC News (11 March 2013)

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