Bronze Age debris discovered in Gittisham field

PUBLISHED: 13:10 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:36 29 November 2017

Jerry Austin at the bronze age site in Honiton. Ref mhh 47 17TI 3542. Picture: Terry Ife

Jerry Austin at the bronze age site in Honiton. Ref mhh 47 17TI 3542. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

The major historical find comes more than 20 years after the enclosed settlement was discovered during works to build the A30 road.

Jerry Austin,Paul Clarke and Edoardo Vigo at the bronze age site in Honiton. Ref mhh 47 17TI 3532. Picture: Terry IfeJerry Austin,Paul Clarke and Edoardo Vigo at the bronze age site in Honiton. Ref mhh 47 17TI 3532. Picture: Terry Ife

A section of a Bronze Age settlement thought to date back more than 3,000 years has been unearthed in a Honiton field.

The major historical find comes more than 20 years after the enclosed settlement was discovered during works to build the A30 road.

Archaeologists are currently excavating the former Meadow View Nursery site in Hayne Lane, Gittisham, which will house a new garden centre managed by James Trevett.

Large postholes - thought to represent the former gateway to the enclosure - and the remains of a round house have been discovered so far.

Mr Trevett said: “It’s all been quite exciting really.

“We thought we may find a few bits of old pots - but not another round house.

“It has unfortunately slowed the development down a bit, and is likely to hold us up for a while longer, but that can’t be helped.”

The new discoveries are believed to be part of the enclosed settlement discovered in the mid ’90s, which contained two circular houses - one used as a workshop for spinning, weaving and storage, and the other larger house used for accommodation.

A full report on the project will be written in the future.

The work is being undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology’s Exeter Office, at the request of the Combe Estate.

Derek Evans, the firm’s project manager said: “We initially excavated a number of trial trenches at the site, which enabled us to target two larger excavation areas on the two parts of the site with the most archaeological potential.

“Previous archaeological works carried out during the construction of the A30 dual carriageway in the 1990s recorded a substantial Bronze Age enclosure, the projected line of which passed through the nursery site. Our works have confirmed the presence of this enclosure within the site, where it survives as a substantial ditch.

“A break in this ditch denotes a probable entrance - large postholes within this entrance may represent a former gateway or other entrance structure.”

Mr Evans said previous works show that the enclosure ditch encircled ‘several roundhouses and associated granaries’.

He added: “The present works at the nursery site have also recorded the remains of a further Bronze Age roundhouse outside of the enclosure, which survives as a circular gully and associated pits and postholes.

“We are grateful to the Combe Estate for this opportunity to further investigate Honiton’s prehistoric past.

“Once the fieldwork is completed, the project archive - including any artefacts - will be deposited with the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.”

A full report on the project will be prepared by Cotswold Archaeology for publication in a local archaeological journal.

The discovery was made last Friday as work began on building Honiton’s new garden centre, in Hayne Lane.

Permission to build the centre on Gittisham’s former Meadow View Nursery site was granted by East Devon District Council earlier in the year.

As a result of the excavation works, the six-month proposed development of the centre has stalled - meaning it will open a little later than March 2018. Once built, it will offer 1,044sqm of retail space, covered and open sales areas and 43 parking spaces.

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