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Archaeology Walkaround, Milton Keynes

As part of our continuing programme of Public Engagement, 36 local residents joined us for a third time to walk around our latest striking archaeological discoveries within the Western Expansion Area of Milton Keynes.

Visitors included Ron Cox (previous farmer of this land), Bill Griffiths Director of Milton Keynes Museum, Sarah Chard Cooper of Milton Keynes Museum Collections, David Muston Chair of Milton Keynes Heritage Association & Calverton Records Project, as well as local residents who have been following the progress of our Milton Keynes excavations over the last four years.
 
Thanks to the spectacular photography produced by our in-house drone expert Dr Andrew Tizzard MCIfA, our understanding of this site has deepened and visitors enjoyed an informative guided tour of the excavated features. These included a clearly visible enclosure boundary containing at least three Late Iron Age roundhouses and a rectangular stone structure, possibly a walled garden, situated slightly to the west and associated with a Romano-British settlement. 

The rarest and most significant feature of the visit was, without doubt, the Romano-British rectangular walled structure, which survives remarkably well. 

Ron Cox, who farmed this land with his family for 70 years up until 2010, was amazed and delighted to see what had lain, unknown to him, beneath his pasture all this time.

On hand to unravel the “story” of this site were eight Border staff, led by Amy Bunce BSc MA ACIfA, Director: Palaeoenvironmental Sciences, Janice McLeish MA Hons, Senior Manager: MK PEX Facility, Andy Nettleton BA, Site Supervisor and Dr Rebecca Roseff, Special Projects Manager, with contributions from Field Archaeologists, Steph Dalby, Adam Griffiths, Josh Cameron and Stewart Hawthorn, who were onhand to answer numerous questions. Discussions revealed that, sometime around the beginning of Romano-British occupation, the main Iron Age settlement was abandoned and a new settlement established a short distance to the west, possibly by the same family groups. 
 
This site provides important evidence for the Iron-Age/Romano-British transition in the Milton Keynes Western Expansion Area.
 
With a cup of tea to quench their thirst (and a biscuit or two...), our visitors further whetted their appetite for archaeology with an assortment of small-finds presented by Janice McLeish. The small finds on display were from the previously excavated area and also from the current open-area excavation.
 
Janice explained, 
 
‘Located next to Calverton Lane, this was probably home to a more prosperous farming community, possibly based around an extended family. The finds recovered show use of personal adornment, an awareness of fashion and a desire to represent the social status of the wearer. Religious practices and ceremony were important to the Romano-British, evidenced by the finding of a miniature vase and triple vase. The triple vase is a particularly rare and exciting find which was generally used within household shrines to hold flowers or incense oils.’

Janice also presented a selection of finds from the current open-area excavation. These included fragments of large storage vessels, coins, decorated samian ware, fragments of quernstone and items of personal adornment. These finds have yet to be sent to specialists, hence dates are not confirmed.
 
 Border Archaeology fully supports clients in their commitment to engage and connect local communities to heritage assets.
 
Over the last three years, within the Western & Eastern Expansion area of Milton Keynes, we have organised five archaeological events. Feedback is invariably positive, as attested by Graham Benjamin, a Local Resident of Stony Stratford​ (see opposite).


 

"Dear Rachel,
 
My thanks to Border, to you and to Amy and Janice and their other colleagues on-site yesterday for a most informative and enjoyable visit. The progress is fascinating, both for the continuing Iron Age presence and the Roman structures and artefacts. Regarding the latter, I am glad to know that your work will be continuing for some time yet across the development area, not least because it would be good to discover the house which one presumes accompanied the conjectured kitchen garden/animal enclosure.
 
Best wishes and thanks, Graham"

Graham Benjamin, Local Resident, Milton Keynes