Medieval discovery unearthed at construction site

Archaeologists have discovered an early medieval settlement in Wiltshire on a site earmarked for new homes.

Persimmon Homes Wessex is due to build at Westrop Park, near Highworth, but before the diggers could move in a survey was carried out to discover whether the land held any secrets.

Excavations unearthed enough historical finds for archaeologists to believe the site could be that of a medieval settlement from the time of the Norman Conquest.

Now local youngsters from Westrop Park Primary School have been given an insight into the work when they visited the site as part of their Footprints From The Past project.

Andy Hood, an archaeologist with Foundations Archaeology who carried out the excavation, said: “It was wonderful to see the children at the site as it really helps to bring history alive for them.

“The discovery is unusual for Highworth because there is a lack of excavation in the area.  We have discovered remains of pottery and animal bones, which lead us to think this is an early medieval settlement from around 1,000 years ago. “We have nearly finished our excavation and we will send all our finds across to specialists who will tell us exactly what the animals were and all about the area and its local economy.  It will help build up a full picture of what was there.  We will then publish the findings in an academic journal and all the items will be housed in a local museum.”

Work on the housing development will start once the excavation finishes, with a selection of four-bedroom family homes being built.

Pauline Fletcher, sales and marketing director for Persimmon Homes Wessex, said: “We were delighted to invite the children to Westrop Park as it gave a fascinating look at the history of this area.”

Pupils aged seven and eight were involved in the visit which was hailed a huge success by their headteacher, Janet Urban.

She added: “It was so exciting for the pupils to visit Westrop Park. They certainly learned a lot on the day and we cannot thank Persimmon Homes Wessex enough for arranging it.

“The pupils enjoyed a talk about all the discoveries and the people who would have lived there and it added another dimension to their history studies.”