Thursday, 11 June 2009

'The Road to 2012...'

A 2,000-year-old war grave crammed with up to 50 headless bodies has been uncovered by workers digging a new road for the Olympics.

The Iron Age victims found in the ancient burial site are thought to have been slaughtered by the invading Romans in about 43AD.

All of them had been decapitated and some had their limbs hacked off.

It has been discovered in the heart of Thomas Hardy country, on Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth, Dorset.

The site is being dug up to make way for a so-called Olympic Highway, an £87million relief road in time for the 2012 games.

The burial site is close to Maiden Castle - Europe's largest Iron Age hill fort where the local Celtic tribe staged their last stand against General Vespasian and his Roman legion.

Archaeologists are waiting to carry out radio-carbon testing on the butchered remains but believe the skeletons were young local men killed by Roman soldiers.

Dave Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology which is managing the dig, said it was a 'remarkable and exciting' discovery.

He said: 'We have found a large pit about six metres in diameter.

'We have counted 45 skulls so far, these are in one section of the pit, and several torsos and leg bones in separate sections of the pit.

'We believe they date from the end of the Iron Age going into the Roman period.

'At the moment we don't fully understand how or why the remains have come to be deposited in the pit.

'But it is clear some kind of catastrophic event such as a major conflict or mass execution has taken place and this is a war grave of some kind.

'The heads have been removed and other body parts have been chopped up. We don't yet know if this was before or after death or was some kind of ritual.

'The pit is very close to Maiden Castle, which was a major Iron Age fort.

'If the victims were Roman we would have expected to find Roman artifacts in the pit, like hobnails from shoes.

'Our gut feeling is that this is the result of a conflict between Iron Age local people and Roman soldiers.'

... The site has been fenced off and is under 24-hour security due to the unique nature of the find, he said.

Archaeological finds from the Weymouth Relief Road project will be put on show at a Dorset museum after they have been analysed and catalogued.

Weymouth and Portland will host all the sailing events at the 2012 Olympics.'

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1192353/Mass-war-grave-50-headless-bodies-Olympics-site.html#comments

An ancient river bed that has lain unseen for 185,000 years has been uncovered by scientists mapping the parts of the English Channel in the run up to the 2012 Olympics

The groundbreaking discovery was made during a two-year £300,000 project to map 500 square miles of seabed off the Jurassic coast in Dorset.

Using new and incredibly accurate mapping techniques, experts traced the river that may have once been used as a watering hole by woolly mammoths that roamed the area.

The mysterious river bed cuts through bedrock at the bottom of the ocean and is eight miles long, ranges between 90 to 150 yards wide and up to 30ft deep.

Scientists believe it would have flowed when Britain was still attached to the continent.

As ice melted and refroze, it was washed over and uncovered a second time, before finally being hidden at the bottom of the sea during the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago.'

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1195704/Ancient-river-beneath-Channel-Olympics-survey.html

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