Iron Age finds as work continues on new water pipeline

An Iron Age brooch has been found near Ancaster during construction of a new water main network which will help tackle future water shortages.

The Iron Age brooch recently discovered on the pipeline route.
The Iron Age brooch recently discovered on the pipeline route.

The 2,000-year-old copper alloy brooch was found near the village on a 34km section of Anglian Water’s huge new network of interconnecting pipes that will link north Lincolnshire to drier parts of East Anglia.

It was unearthed within the backfill of a large boundary ditch which possibly enclosed a small Iron Age settlement and continued in use into the Roman period.

Other finds from the site include pottery and animal bone dating to the Iron Age and Roman periods.

The site also contained three ring ditches. Their purpose is uncertain, but they appear to be associated with domestic activity. Further analysis of the finds and samples recovered during archaeological excavations will help identify the possible purpose of the site.

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Oliver Cooper of York Archaeology, who was involved in the dig where the brooch was found, said: “The penannular brooch would have been used to fasten a cloak or other garment, so was both decorative and functional.

“Brooches like this were worn in Iron Age Britain and continued into the early Roman period before passing out of use.”

Excavations at this site complement previous ones as part of the project which show Iron Age settlements dotted along the higher ground near to the later, Roman road of Ermine Street, now known as High Dike.

These include two Iron Age skeletons found during an earlier dig. Both sets of bones, uncovered in separate sites near Navenby, are believed to be more than 2,000 years old. 

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Pippa Adams, archaeology lead for the pipeline project, said: “As a water company, we have a role to bring environmental and social prosperity to our region.  

“Many of the discoveries we’ve made on this project tell us a lot about how Iron Age, Roman and later communities experienced day-to-day life. This information helps enhance our understanding of the development of our regional and national heritage.” 

Almost as long as the London Underground tube network and longer than the M6, the pipeline project aims to tackle the future water shortages in the East.