Excavations at a Thames Water sewage works in South Cerney, near Cirencester, have uncovered a variety of prehistoric features and artefacts, including a rare Bronze Age spearhead.
The site lies within a wider multiperiod archaeological landscape, where previous investigations have uncovered traces of human activity spanning the Neolithic to Roman periods, including a large Bronze Age settlement made up of timber post- built structures, as well as a Romano-British farm- stead, associated field boundaries, and evidence of agricultural activity.
The most recent fieldwork – led by Cotswold Archaeology in conjunction with Thames Water, and undertaken in advance of the creation of a new wetland wildlife habitat – identified six post-built roundhouses dating from the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age, plus two Roman trackways and a range of pottery and animal bone. The most significant discovery, however, was a near-pristine 3,000-year-old spearhead, which was found just below the surface in a shallow pit. This feature was surrounded by an enigmatic circle of stake-holes; their precise function is unknown, but they may have formed part of an above-ground structure designed to mark the pit.
Alex Thomson, Cotswold Archaeology’s Project Manager, commented: ‘On the first day we were there, on almost the first machine-scrape, this beautiful spearhead popped out of the top of a Bronze Age pit. They’re very rare to find and exceptionally special artefacts. Believe me when I say, the preservation of this one is phenomenal.’
Work at the site is ongoing, and Cotswold Archaeology is working with Thames Water to examine and catalogue the artefacts, which could be put on public display at Cirencester’s Corinium Museum. The £200,000 Thames Water project that funded the excavations will culminate in the creation of around 4ha of wetland habitat for a range of amphibians, insects, and wading and migratory birds.