Excavations and open day at Iron Age hillfort

Posted by mjs76 at Jun 18, 2010 12:35 PM |
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have been given permission to excavate a local Iron Age hillfort – and to show people round on Sunday.
Excavations and open day at Iron Age hillfort

image: Andrew Tatlow via Wikipedia

Burrough Hill near Melton Mowbray is a well-preserved Celtic hillfort within a County Council-owned country park. Dating from the Iron Age (600BC-43AD), the fort has extensive ramparts and an impressive entrance. Over the years there has been a small amount of excavation on the site – two human skeletons were found there in 1935 – but the area has remained largely untouched for forty years. During which time, of course, archaeological techniques and equipment have advanced immeasurably.

So it is very exciting to report that the team from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have been given special permission by the Council and English Heritage to excavate two parts of Burrough Hill and learn more about life in Leicestershire two thousand years ago.

Hillforts were strongly defended settlements built on high ground, surrounded by earthwork ramparts. Burrough Hill itself is one of the highest spots in Leicestershire with magnificent views and a toposcope to help visitors. It gives its name to the nearby village of Burrough-on-the-Hill.

Situated on major routes and strategically positioned among neighbouring hillforts, Burrough Hill was clearly an important settlement for many years (possibly anything up to eight centuries of habitation). Some authorities believe that it may have been the capital of the Coritani, a collection of tribes who ruled the East Midlands during the 1st century AD. The Coritani were an agricultural people and were on good terms with the occupying Romans, who offered a degree of protection against warlike neighbouring tribes.

One of the fort’s most impressive elements, which the University of Leicester archaeologists have been examining, is the remains of a gatehouse, complete with cobbled road. The current survey has also revealed that the settlement extended much further east than previously believed, with the remains of numerous roundhouses and grain pits now identified.

If you would like to see this for yourself – and who doesn’t love a good hillfort? - this Sunday, 20 June 2010, the archaeological site will be open to visitors. There will be displays of recovered artefacts and guided tours from ULAS staff.