Found at a School, the Grisly Remains of an Iron Age Graveyard

Daily Mail (London), September 17, 2010 | Go to article overview

Found at a School, the Grisly Remains of an Iron Age Graveyard


Byline: David Derbyshire

AN Iron Age burial site containing the skeletons of children and sacrificed animals has been unearthed by archaeologists.

The remains - which include tributes to a long-forgotten god - were buried in deep pits by Ancient Britons more than 2,000 years ago.

They were discovered in London during the construction of a new school and are one of the most important Iron Age finds in the capital for years, shedding light on a time when Britain was on the verge of Roman rule.

Researchers believe the pits were dug on the site of a small farming community, made up of earth and timber roundhouses with thatched roofs and central fireplaces.

They have all the hallmarks of ceremonial pits, used to mark the abandonment of a village.

The children were buried separately and are thought to have died from natural causes.

The burials were discovered by workmen laying the foundations of the new Stanley Park High School on the former site of a hospital in Carshalton, South-West London.

Duncan Hawkins, an archaeologist at the dig, said the remains were typical of a 'late Iron Age and early Roman farming settlement'.

'A very large number of domestic animal skeletons have been recovered - including horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs,' he said.

'These animals, which were either whole or partly dismembered, appear to have been deliberately sacrificed and deposited in deep pits cut into the chalk bedrock.

'This may represent some form of "closure" ritual when the settlement passed out of use with the pits perhaps originally representing grain stores.' The pits were up to 12ft deep and lie less than 100 yards from one of the largest late Bronze Age hilltop enclosures in South-East England. This was dug up during the creation of a hospital 100 years ago. …

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