|10 January 2010
Excavations at an Iron Age site in Suffolk
Archaeologists attempting to piece together the history of an Iron Age site on Beccles marshes (Suffolk, England) believe they are moving a step closer to drawing conclusions. A team of students from University of Birmingham descended on the marshes for three weeks in the summer to try to unravel the mystery surrounding the site.
In 2006, three rows of wooden posts inserted into the ground were unearthed while flood defence work was being carried out. The posts have been traced for about 500m from the contemporary dryland edge just outside Beccles, north to the edge of the River Waveney. The digs have confirmed that the three parallel rows of large oak posts have been dated using tree rings to 75 BCE, which is the late Iron Age. It was initially believed that the posts could mark out a causeway that provided a main route into Beccles, although further interpretation of the site is currently under way.
Dr Ben Gearey, who led the team of staff and students from Birmingham Archaeo-Environmental, said: "We're not sure of the completed form or function of the site yet, but we have evidence from this year's excavations of the presence of a ground level platform or walkway on some parts of the structure at least. We are waiting for further scientific dating to indicate if this was part of the original structure or is a later addition." He added: "The 'monumental' character of the structure may be important so perhaps it was intended to be some form of territorial marker, although the river did not mark a tribal boundary in the Iron Age. The function is also dependent on whether it continues on the other side of the river. The engineering works will be taking place on the Norfolk side later this year; we hope to be able to have a look then."
The site has "exceptional" preservation of organic remains, as the peat deposits provide a saturated environment that prevents decay processes. Now the team has secured funding for one of the posts to be conserved, which it hopes to donate to the Beccles & District Museum, but is looking for funding to pay for a display case and board.
Source: The Advertiser24 (8 January 2010)
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