Monday, 11 August 2008

Isle of Man Bronze Age dig ahead of schedule

From BBC News.

Archaeologists who uncovered part of a Bronze Age village beneath the Isle of Man's airport have finished the first phase of their excavations early.

Their dig began in May, when human remains and artefacts were found by workers on a stretch of the proposed taxiway extension at Ronaldsway.

Experts who were called in found a human skull, rubbish dump and evidence of skull burials and funeral pyres.

Excavations finished nearly two weeks early ahead of schedule.

The artefacts have now been removed for study and conservation.

A preliminary report will also be prepared by Oxford Archaeology, who worked on the site along with staff from Manx National Heritage (MNH).

Andrew Johnson, field archaeologist at MNH, said: "Because of the known archaeological richness of the area, these works were required under planning conditions put in place when the go-ahead was given for the runway project at the airport.

"Construction areas have been stripped of topsoil and checked for archaeological remains before being handed over to Balfour Beatty."

He added: "In total we've checked and signed off a massive area of ground - equivalent to about 20 football pitches."

The dig focused on an area near the north-east end of the airport, where an extension to the northern taxiway was being prepared.

Archaeologists believe the Bronze Age village they found is a continuation of a site first revealed in 1935.

The team are expected to return in the spring when construction work focuses on the eastern end of the airport where the promontory is to be built.

Airport Director Ann Reynolds said: "I understand that no archaeological project of this scale and complexity has ever been undertaken on the island before in the course of a major construction contract.

"It has been a major achievement for all concerned."

Read more here.

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