ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered evidence that the site of a new housing development in Newbury was once home to a Bronze Age monument.

Excavations carried out at Taylor Wimpey’s upcoming Shaw Valley development at Hilltop, Shaw-cum-Donington, uncovered signs that a round barrow dating back as early as 2200BC once existed on the site.

According to Foundations Archaeology, which carried out the dig on behalf of Taylor Wimpey in January this year, the 16m barrow originally comprised a mound surrounded by a ditch.

As it was cut out of the chalk ground it would have had a striking white appearance, and would probably have been used for funeral rituals.

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Small amounts of prehistoric pottery, animal bone and horn were recovered from the ditch around the barrow.

Weathering, and eventually farming during the Iron Age, hid the barrow from sight until it was recently rediscovered as a crop mark through aerial photography.

The team from Foundations Archaeology will now create a formal report into the discovery, so the existence of the monument can be recorded in the history of the area.

A spokesperson for the Foundations Archaeology team said: “We were excited to be provided with the opportunity to excavate and record this fascinating addition to our corpus of knowledge about this period of our history, and we are grateful to Taylor Wimpey for funding the works.”

With archaeological investigations now complete, Taylor Wimpey is able to start enabling works on site ready for construction of the new homes to begin.

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Gary Needham, Land and Planning Director for Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said: “Before we start developing a site it’s really important that we try to establish what was there before.

"Often this can be easy to see, but sometimes we need to work with a team of archaeologists to dig a little deeper.

“It’s been fascinating to learn what the team has uncovered at Shaw Valley. While the Bronze Age barrow had long since disappeared from sight, this discovery means it can be recorded in history as an early example of settlement in Newbury.”