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Ancient artefacts found as part of Southern sewer scheme

Archaeology South-East (UCL) dug up items that date back as far as 3500 BC in excavations taking place ahead of the construction of a major new wastewater main being installed by Southern Water in Chichester.

This follows on from other artefacts being discovered in areas surrounding the city last year.

Jim Stevenson, project manager at Archaeology South-East, said: "Southern Water's new water main scheme presented a unique opportunity to investigate what was essentially a 10km long transect across the hinterland of Chichester, enabling archaeologists to gain a keyhole-like view of patterns of human settlement and industry spanning late prehistory to the present day.

"This selection of finds are just a few of the many [nearly a metric tonne in all] that were found during the excavations. They represent many time periods and artefact types and showcase some of the interesting artefacts uncovered during this these fascinating digs!"

Southern Water project manager David Winterburn said: "These archaeological finds are absolutely fascinating and it's unsurprising really given the history of Chichester. Excavations and surveying work often play a big part of our capital schemes where investing to upgrade or improve the water network in any given area."

The archaeological digs are a part of Southern Water's capital scheme to build a 10km sewer pipeline that will run from the west of Chichester, across the north of the city and through to Tangmere, where it will connect to Tangmere Wastewater Treatment Works. Construction work is set to start in the early part of 2019.

Some of the recent Archaeological finds include Neolithic material (3500–2500 BC), including an antler pick, waste from flint knapping, and from meals and charred plant material.

The antler pick would have been used as a digging tool and was found on the base of a large ring ditch monument. Flint knapping would have been a common activity in the Neolithic, with the material used to make tools for hunting, food preparation and leatherworking for example.

Stevenson added: "In the same pit as the flint knapping waste was found there was also remains of food, including at least two pigs aged 14-21 months – a fascinating glimpse into the everyday life of people living 5,000 years ago."

Lots of pottery fragments have also come from the sites, representing a wide range of periods and spanning nearly six thousand years from the Early Middle Neolithic to the Second World War.

Some of the most notable vessels shown in the pictures are a small group of Middle Neolithic (3300-2800 BC) sherds, a group of Middle Bronze Age (c1500-1150BC) cremation urns and an Early Iron Age (c. 600-400BC) domestic assemblage. Huge deposits of Roman pottery were also found.

From the later periods, archaeologists found a large group of medieval pottery and even a group of pottery used before and during the Second World War, including many items bearing RAF stamps.

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Sewer Networks
Tags: Southern Water , wastewater , construction

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