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Posted - 17th October 19

Bulford’s hidden history unearthed

A significant archaeological discovery was recently made by Aspire Defence Capital Works at the Bulford site.

During drainage excavation works at Wing Barracks, a ‘crouched’ prehistoric burial was found along with large amounts of pottery, believed to be around 4400 years old and dating from the ‘Beaker’ period.

The discovery was protected thanks to prompt interventions taken by Eddie Reeves, Tom Heritage and Ray Bashford, who were working at Bulford Camp on behalf of Woodmace, Rydon and ADCW on infrastructure for the Army Basing Programme.  Works were immediately halted when bones were seen in the excavation. The area was fenced off and shielded from the weather, with archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology arriving within the hour. They obtained a Ministry of Justice burial licence, allowing the skeleton to be recorded, excavated and exhumed.

Experienced archaeologist Phil Harding, who was part of television’s Time Team, supervised the works and provided a briefing to our site team with his customary infectious enthusiasm (see photo).

David Keeble, ADCW Environmental Manager, said:

Phil told us the skeleton was most likely to be a male who lived in the area who lived in the area about 500 years after construction work started at Stonehenge.  Some of the people from this Beaker period had travelled to Britain from Portugal and the Spanish west coast, across the Bay of Biscay and English Channel.

The body would have been buried in a timber coffin, with legs bent and the pottery placed next to it. Although single graves of this era are not unusual, it was only the second time in over fifty years of excavations that Phil had personally been involved in a burial of this date and arrangement. He highlighted how helpful the construction team had been, particularly by providing materials on the first day to cover and protect the human remains from the weather prior to excavation.

The archaeological site works were completed within three days, with Phil assisted by Emma Robertson, a Wessex Archaeology osteoarchaeologist (human remains specialist) who helped complete photogrammetry of the burial. This will enable creation of a 3D computer model of the discovery.  Radiocarbon dating and potentially the reconstruction of a large part of a pottery vessel may also now be completed, providing further insight into how people at Bulford lived over four thousand years ago.and enhancing the wider environment too.

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