Digging up fort's origins

PUBLISHED: 11:36 02 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:08 06 May 2010

RSPB site manager Peter Bradley at the dig

RSPB site manager Peter Bradley at the dig

A DIG to discover Sandy s historical past has revealed a few of the secrets hidden for centuries under the soil at the RSPB site. Archaeologists have reported back after their dig at Galley Hill Iron Age hill fort, which is located at the RSPB s The Lodge

A DIG to discover Sandy's historical past has revealed a few of the secrets hidden for centuries under the soil at the RSPB site.

Archaeologists have reported back after their dig at Galley Hill Iron Age hill fort, which is located at the RSPB's The Lodge nature reserve.

The dig was paid for by the RSPB and English Heritage, and carried out under English Heritage's supervision by Albion Archaeology in May this year.

Trenches were dug to determine the age and structure of banks around the hill fort, which would have formed a formidable defence. The archaeologists identified the likely position of the entrance in the northern bank. It would have been possible for pedestrians and wheeled carts to use such an entrance.

The presence of pottery shards clearly dated the origins of the monument to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age.

They also investigated a low mound in the centre of the hill fort, which might have been an ancient long-barrow. In fact, it was found to have been a short length of ditch with banks.

Early Bronze Age pottery found in this area indicated that Galley Hill was in use before the main hill fort was constructed.

Other investigations using boreholes suggested that a length of curved bank may have been part of an earlier oval-shaped hill fort, built on the site in late Bronze Age times.

"The RSPB are delighted with the results of the investigation." said RSPB site manager Peter Bradley.

"These investigations are just beginning to throw light on how important Galley Hill was. I imagine a few hundred people living here, grazing sheep and cattle on the heathy hills, and farming down near the River Ivel.

"I hope we can do more work to get an even clearer picture of life in pre-Roman Sandy."

The RSPB hopes to open the hill fort to the public late in 2007. Copies of the archaeological field investigation are available at Sandy reference library.

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