Dig site's Iron Age secrets

A PREHISTORIC skeleton thought to date from the Iron Age has been discovered during a three-week archaeological dig at a Derbyshire beauty spot.

The human remains were unearthed at the site of an ancient hillfort near Monsal Head by volunteers from the Longstone Local History Group.

Experts leading the dig carefully removed the skeleton from the site, noting that it appeared to have been thrown into a rock-cut ditch outside the fort’s ramparts and had had rocks thrown on top of it, possibly as a result of hostilities.

Other exciting finds included the discovery by children from Longstone CE Primary School of hundreds of Mesolithic chipped stone artefacts – such as scrapers for working hides, fragments of prehistoric pottery used for storing, cooking and serving food and a flake from a Neolithic stone axe head.

Dr Clive Waddington, director of Archaeological Research Services Ltd, who led the dig, said: “The excavation has been tremendously rewarding because it has supplied significant new information for understanding hillforts in the Peak District, a type of monument which has remained poorly understood in the region.”

Ann Hall, LLHG Project Manager, said she was particularly pleased that so many locals had given their time and energy to help remove over two metres of soil and rubble to help solve the mystery of how the fort and ditch had been constructed, with 78 volunteers and 160 schoolchildren helping out.

The history group had secured 49,000 of Heritage Lottery cash to fund the excavation.

She said: “We all feel very privileged to have been given permission to investigate below the surface of this scheduled ancient monument - even for just a short time.

‘Amazing’

“The site is on private land with no public access and now we have restored the land, there is nothing left on site to show all the amazing features which have been discovered.

“The skeleton has been carefully removed along with all the finds.

“These will be analysed by specialists to give us much more information about what happened in the past.”

Results of the post-excavation analysis will be presented at the Derbyshire Archaeology Day at the Pomegranate Theatre in January 2010.