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Bestwall Quarry

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Aggregates Levy Money For Amateur-Led Excavation Which Has Made Outstanding Discoveries

An excavation begun 12 years ago by a lone amateur which has turned into one of the biggest and most important archaeological sites in the country has been awarded the first part of a grant that could be worth over £160,000 from a fund providing benefits to the community from the quarry industry.

The Bestwall Archaeological Project has uncovered more than 7,000 years of history at a 55 hectare quarry to the east of Wareham, Dorset. The quarry includes one of the largest areas of Middle Bronze Age landscape ever to be excavated and the most substantial ranges of Bronze Age pottery yet discovered in Britain. Also among the finds are Bronze Age ceremonial jewellery and an enormous Roman coin hoard.

Now English Heritage, who helps administer the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, has allocated money to enable publication of the amazing results of the excavations which are due to finish later this year and which are set to add substantially to our knowledge about our distant past. Amateur volunteers from all over Dorset have carried out most of the excavation, led by Wareham historian Lilian Ladle who was asked to undertake archaeological excavations at the site prior to commercial gravel extraction. The project is seen as a shining example of how amateurs and professionals can work together to produce work of the highest standard.

Buzz Busby, Assistant Ancient Monument Inspector with English Heritage’s South West Region, who is overseeing the latest part of the project on behalf of the ALSF, said: "We are delighted to support this nationally important excavation through the ALSF. The project is extremely unusual as projects of this size are generally only carried out by professional archaeological units. Thanks to the support of the quarry owners and professional archaeologists, this truly outstanding research has been undertaken by local amateurs."

Among the nationally important finds are rare domestic assemblages of beaker pottery from the Early Bronze Age, a feasting site with ritually placed copper alloy bracelets and ceremonial pottery drinking sets from the Middle Bronze Age and extensive evidence of pottery production from the Late Bronze Age. Altogether more than a twelve thousand pieces of Bronze Age pottery have been discovered,

A vivid picture of the Bronze Age Dorset, previously only visible as burial mounds, has now emerged. On the shores of Poole Harbour generations of prehistoric farmers living in large, well-constructed round houses grew wheat, tended flocks of sheep and enjoyed a good lifestyle. There was plenty to eat and, on occasions, great feasts took place. They made their own pottery, developed trade networks, spun wool and wove it into cloth and adorned themselves with attractive, high-class jewellery.
baza Posted by baza
7th March 2003ce

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