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5 August 2017
Neolithic burial urn unearthed in West Yorkshire

A 5,000 year old complete funeral urn has been excavated on housing development land in Silsden (West Yorkshire, England); the late Neolithic pot was dug up from the site of an ancient barrow. Arrow heads, pottery, and flint tools have also been unearthed during the seven week dig before the building work.
     Senior archaeologist David Hunter said the funeral urn, which is thought to have contained human remains, is made of pot and dates from 3,000 BCE. It marks the resting place of an important individual. "We will X-ray and cat scan the urn before we start to remove the contents," said Mr Hunter.
     The archaeological site was quite prominent to the trained eye, but a magnetometer survey was carried out by Archaeological Services WYAS geophysics team as the first stage of the evaluation. This revealed a number of of very clear anomalies several of which were associated with burial practices in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
     Excavation confirmed Prehistoric activity was confined to a ridge of gravel. The archaeological features comprised a 100ft across double ditched barrow, a probable mortuary enclosure and double pit alignment. The dig produced rare but characteristic flints and pottery including a Neolithic leaf shaped arrow head, a later flint blade and the complete collered urn, found in a pit towards the centre of the barrow and likely to be the primary burial and focus of the barrow.
     The size, form and artefacts point to the barrow being created in the later Neolithic to early Bronze Age some 5000 to 4500 ago and the burial of an important individual in a prominent location. Mr Hunter said: "Other pottery and a later cremated burial were also excavated from the barrow and barrow ditches showing it remained an important feature of the upper Aire Valley into the Bronze Age."
     It is hoped the funeral urn will eventually go on display at Cliffe Castle Museum.

Edited from Keighley Online (28 June 2017)

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