A14 Upgrade: All ancient finds found by archaeologists working on the A14

Archaeological excavations are an important part of any major infrastructure project, and the A14 Improvement Plan is no exception.

The project ended up becoming one of the largest and most complex archaeological projects ever undertaken in the UK.

Archaeological work on the project, which covered approximately 350 hectares, began in 2009 with geophysical surveys.

More than 10 years later, the program has now ended and a team of 30 specialists are now recording and analyzing the material discovered during the project.

Nearly 40 separate excavations discovered:

  • 11 old woolly mammoth tusks and three complete woolly rhino skulls, all dating from nearly 100,000 years ago
  • Three Neolithic henges, between four and five thousand years old
  • Seven prehistoric cemeteries, most dating from the Bronze Age
  • 15 Iron Age and Roman establishments, three Anglo-Saxon establishments and a deserted medieval village
  • Around 15,000 objects such as coins, brooches and ironwork, more than 500 human burials and cremations, more than six tons of pottery and almost five tons of animal bones

Iron Age beer making

Among these ancient artefacts was the first evidence of beer making ever discovered in the UK, discovered last year.

Signs of the Iron Age brew, believed to date back to 400 BC. AD, were recovered from fragments of charred residue from the earth excavated with other finds.

Dr Steve Sherlock, Highways England Archeology Officer for the A14, said at the time: History.

“It is a well-known fact that ancient populations used the beer-making process to purify water and create a safe source of hydration, but it is potentially the first physical evidence of this process that takes place in the world. UK.

“It’s all part of the work we do to respect the cultural heritage of the region as we deliver our vital upgrade for the A14. “

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roman coins

Another breathtaking discovery made during the project was an incredibly rare Roman coin depicting an emperor who only reigned for two months.

The coin, which depicts Roman Emperor Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus wearing a radiated crown, was only the second of its kind to be discovered during an archaeological excavation in England.

Laelianus ruled a breakaway empire from Rome for a short time in the third century.

Evidence of his reign is very scarce, and it is believed that the coin did not arrive in England until after his death.

Dr Steve Sherlock said: “Finds like this are incredibly rare. This is one of the many pieces that we have found on this exciting project, but finding one, where there are only two known from excavations in this country that represent this particular emperor, is really quite enough. important.

“I look forward to seeing how analyzing this find and many other Roman remains that we have found on this project help us better understand our past.”

The construction team found several woolly mammoth tusks and woolly rhino skulls while digging for construction materials in one of the A14 program borrow pits.

A picture of human life

The archaeological team are now using the findings from the excavations to develop a more detailed picture of the past 6,000 years of human occupation.

They hope this will help them better understand how people lived, how societies functioned, and help them trace the impact of major events such as the Roman conquest and the collapse of Roman rule.

This article has been updated and republished.

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