A team from the Poulton Research Project made the ‘fascinating’ discovery of the colony in a farmer’s field in Poulton. More than 5,000 artifacts dating from around 800 BC. were unearthed, consisting of 10 round earthen and wooden houses with a conical thatched roof. Experts say the finds reveal this wealthy and large community, running counter to the common view that the North West of England was sparsely populated in the Iron Age.
Artifacts discovered included rocking carved antlers of a red deer, burials of sacrificial dogs and even human remains.
The team said the finds provide “the best-preserved picture of late prehistoric life ever found in [northwest England]”.
Dr Kevin Cootes, archaeologist at Liverpool John Moores University and consultant to the Poulton Research Project, said: “Until now very little was known about high-level Iron Age communities. in the North West of England.
“We can tell from what we found that this community was very wealthy, from trade along the river. Poulton is a well-preserved time capsule of thousands of years of life.
“It’s not even a once-in-a-lifetime find, it’s a find of a thousand careers. It’s absolutely fascinating and a privilege to be part of.”
People who lived in the Iron Age settlement grew crops and owned a number of domestic animals.
And other items like rings were imported, while huge amounts of pottery were used to transport salt, which was highly valued at the time, to a high-status colony that used significant amounts for food preservation.
This high-status settlement was in the Middlewich area, more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Poulten site.
But there was one roundhouse, in particular, which was exciting for the team.
The rotunda is believed to have belonged to a wealthy community leader or tribal leader.
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The team wrote in a September 2020 Current Archeology article: “The neutral soils – which had preserved medieval skeletons at the site – had the same effect on the delicate Iron Age finds, while the depth of the ditches had preserved them from destruction by ploughing.
“These factors combined to provide a stable environment for bone, pottery and metal, preserving the most complete time capsule of Iron Age life ever recovered from the lowlands of northwestern Great Britain. -Brittany.”
The findings were published in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society.