| 4 June 2006
Dig of an Iron Age hill fort in Bedfordshire
Excavations to try and unearth buried secrets of an Iron Age hill fort began at a Sandy nature reserve (Bedfordshire, England). Specialists spent last week carrying out excavation work at the fort, located within the grounds of the RSPB headquarters. By taking soil samples and digging trenches at the site, they have discovered Sandy's ancestors may have been in the area for a lot longer than previously thought.
Peter Bradley, site manager of the nature reserve said: "The reason for the work is, as far as we know, it has never been dug in the past and we would like to know more about it, particularly for when it is opened up to the public in a couple of years' time. The idea is it would be seen from a very long way away by other tribes. It could have been defensive or a market place, or where people lived. We don't know yet what use this fort had. Our initial thoughts are that it's something like 250 BCE but certainly there are finds that go back to much much earlier than that. The site's certainly been in use for a very long time."
Pottery and flint were found at the fort and the dig was able to confirm the location of the original entrance. The experts have also found evidence of a smaller hill fort which had been incorporated into the later fort.
The purpose of a raised mound in the middle of the site remains a mystery, however. It was originally thought that it could have been a Neolithic barrow, similar to a burial mound. But excavations found it was a ditch with a bank on one side, and the archaeologists are still unsure what it could have been.
The archaeologists have taken away a number of the finds to look at in more detail. They will then put together a report on the site, which the RSPB hopes to have later this year.
Sources: Biggleswade Today (31 May 2006), The Comet 24 (1 June 2006)
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