Iron Age and Roman Settlement Discovery in Letcombe Bassett near Wantage

Discovering our Ancient History

Before Thames Water began laying their new underground pipe from Wantage to the pumping-station in Letcombe Bassett, they contracted Cotswold Archaeology to do a survey along the entire route. This was done by a team of archaeologists from October 2018 to March 2019.

Evidence of habitation from the Neolithic Age (5000 years ago), Iron Age (3000 years ago), and the Roman period was found in many places. The richest findings were in Letcombe Bassett: toward the top of Holborn Hill they found the remains of a substantial Roman settlement, including 16 graves containing skeletons and artefacts. Then further down toward the pumping station they found an Iron Age settlement, again with graves, skeletons and artefacts, and also with the post-holes of their customary circular thatched dwellings.

These rich findings, taken from only a narrow strip of land through the fields, indicate that this area has been a favoured place for people to live for many thousands of years. The proximity of the Ridgeway and of the spring were no doubt major reasons for its popularity. They built hill-forts on the Ridgeway but lived down here on the plains.

Charles Rowe takes us on a tour of the excavation site:

 

The findings are now being studied by specialists and in about 12 months a comprehensive report will be issued. The skeletons will then be released and local residents including Charles Rowe are trying to find a way to have the skeletons re-buried in the village, fairly close to their original graves. 

They will also be trying to return the artefacts to a secure archive as close as possible to the village.

For more information please contact Charles Rowe on ccrowe@waitrose.com

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