It’s one thing to find historical artifacts when working on a construction project, but a development project for schools in Colchester, UK, found memorial urns dating back to the Middle Bronze Age, making them at least 3 millennia old.
The developers, Mersea Homes, have been busy prepping the land on the property between the south of the A12 in Mile End, Colchester, for a primary and secondary school, and, noting that the land was old and might have archaeological artifacts, asked Colchester Archaeological Trust to excavate five of their sites.
Notably, the second of these five sites were discovered to hold something hidden. In an excavation site measuring at 40x45m, there were two prehistoric, ring-shaped ditches, which hid a small Middle Bronze Age cemetery, around 3,4000 years old, which had three memorial urns in them, among other things, even some small pieces of human bones. The urn themselves were decorated with fingernail or finger-tip impressions.
Radiocarbon dated the human bones as being from around 1374 – 1125 BC, aged at about 3,400 years old.
According Principal Archaeologist Philip Crummy, Colchester Archaeological Trust, the site discovered is what’s called a barrow cemetery, which is a fairly common archaeological find in the area, noting the previous find at Chitts Hill and Mersea Island.
He says that these finds are common find , but finding evidence and sign of the people who once lived in the area in the past is harder and far less frequent.
Dates are still being set for excavating the other sites, located near Bergholt Road, Braiswick Lane, and Mile End Road , with initial findings suggesting that there could be more cremation-related artifacts, like pottery, perhaps more burials.
Chairman Pete Hewitt, Myland Community Council, noted that this is evidence that Myland had people living and dying where it presently stands, and states that, while it shouldn’t be surprising, it’s good that this little bit of the area’s history has come to light. He expresses excitement, saying that he’s looking forward to see what other artifacts can be found in the other hotspots in the site.
The schools being constructed are expected to hold around 1,170 between them both, and are part of major plans for Colchester, which aims to build 1,600 new homes and community facilities, spread across 257-acres of land.