HS2 excavations uncovered unique Bronze Age site
Important remains from a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age ceremonial site near Wendover have been carefully removed and documented by professional archaeological excavation teams working ahead of HS2 construction work. According to Buckinghamshire Council’s Archaeology Service, which had been advising on fieldwork activity, ceremonial sites of this date are rare in the South East of England, and this was the oldest and only known monument of its kind in Buckinghamshire.
The 65m-diameter wooden-post circular monument, with its entrance aligning with the winter solstice, would have been an impressive and important site placed near the convergence of ancient routes through and along the Chilterns. The wooden posts have long since rotted away, leaving only the post-holes that can be seen on the aerial photograph taken as part of the site documentation process.
As well as the prehistoric monument itself, there was evidence of farming and settlements in the form of roundhouses, trackways and animal pens from the Bronze and Iron Ages, including a mysterious ritual burial and a high-status burial within a lead-lined coffin.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Culture Patrick Hogan said: “Although the construction work is controversial for many, the HS2 archaeological teams have made some important finds, including this exciting discovery. This prehistoric find is unique in this area, and underlines the importance of carrying out archaeological fieldwork ahead of development. I am looking forward to being able to share more details of the finds removed from the site as the investigation process continues”
The area has now been backfilled in preparation for construction of the HS2 line, which passes directly across the site.
The Council’s Archaeology Service has been working with HS2 and their partners Fusion on both this and a number of significant multi-phase archaeological sites; these include sites dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, the Iron Age to Romano-British periods, and the medieval site at St Mary’s, Stoke Mandeville.
For further details of HS2 archaeology work go to: www.hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/archaeology
For further information on the Buckinghamshire Council Archaeology Service go to: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/culture-and-tourism/archaeology
The post-holes marking where the timber posts would have stood show the scale of the monument.
Photo copyright of HS2.