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16 December 2014
Possible Bronze Age site spotted on Google Maps

A metal detectorist has discovered a possible Bronze Age burial site while browsing on an aerial mapping website. Gary Campion was using Google Maps when he noticed dark circles and lines in a field near Wattisham in Suffolk (England). Suffolk County Council's archaeological service confirmed the markings were 'very likely'to be prehistoric mounds. The site is on private land and there were no excavation plans at the moment.
     Mr Campion said the aerial photograph showed what appeared to be two circular burial mounds within a larger ring ditch of about 100ft (30m) diameter. "I was doing aerial research online to look for interesting places to get permission to go detecting when I spotted the darker circle," he said. "I assumed it had been seen before, but I approached the Suffolk archaeological service and they were unaware of it. It was exciting, but we've got to wait to see if we can ever go on site and investigate further."
     Dr Richard Hoggett, county senior archaeological officer, said: "The dark round feature is very likely to be the ploughed-out remains of a Bronze Age burial mound/barrow dating from 2300-700 BCE. The surrounding enclosure is also likely to be prehistoric and may also be Bronze Age. It would be usual for there to have been a single central burial, which may have been accompanied by copper alloy, pottery or flint grave goods and very occasionally barrow burials contain precious metal objects."
     Dr Hoggett added: "Although we are involved in a number of English Heritage funded projects to map archaeology from air photos, large parts of the county remain unexplored and we are always keen to hear from people who have spotted possible archaeological sites on Google Earth, Bing mapping or other online images. We would encourage people who think that they have found sites like this to look at the area on the Suffolk Heritage Explorer to see if we already have record for the site, and, if not, they should contact us through the website or by emailing archaeology.her@suffolk.gov.uk".

Edited from Ipswich Star (10 December 2014), BBC News (11 December 2014)

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