| 4 February 2007
Bronze Age burial site unearthed in Wiltshire
It was just another day at work for digger operator Bob Gaunt until he spotted something which resembled part of a shattered chimney pot. But this was at Tidworth (Wiltshire, England) on the edge of Salisbury Plain, not far from Stonehenge, and he immediately realised its potential significance. Mr Gaunt jumped from his excavator and told his boss who alerted experts from Wessex Archaeology, based in Salisbury. They revealed that the mysterious shards of pottery were burial pots or urns placed on the graves of three Bronze Age people cremated some 3,500 years ago. Intriguingly, the pots had been placed upside down on top of the graves.
The remains of another person were found nearby not covered by a pot and instead may have been wrapped in a cloth that has long since rotted away. The relics date from around the time when Stonehenge was at its peak as a magnificent cultural and religious centre. They are the oldest archaeological finds from Tidworth and were discovered when Mr Gaunt was demolishing an old military building at the Bhurtpore Barracks in preparation for new Army accommodation.
The site was closed for two days, enabling Wessex Archaeology to remove the urns and the remains to a laboratory. They are now being studied to establish the age and sex of the dead. Using radiocarbon dating on fragments of charcoal from the funeral pyre experts hope to get a close dating of the finds.
Lieutenant Colonel Mick Roberts, from the Defence Ministry project team, said: "The finds have now been confirmed as Bronze Age. The site itself has markings that appear to be an ancient ditch which ends next to the urns." Nick Truckle, project manager at Wessex Archaeology, said: "As the graves are so close together, this small cemetery may have been a family one."
Source: Western Daily Press (2 February 2007)
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