Iron Age site found in local village

An Iron Age setttlement
An Iron Age setttlement

When planners gave the go-ahead to a new estate in a village south of Market Harborough, they may have thought it was a “greenfield” site never before occupied by houses.

In fact the site in the village of Welford, south-west of Market Harborough, had a surprising secret.

Excavations at the plot off Newlands Road in the village have revealed that people HAVE lived there before - in an Iron Age farmstead settlement which is more than 2,000 years old.

The excavations - undertaken by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services - have taken place before the building of a new 38-home estate in Welford, by developers Mears New Homes.

The university archaeologists found the remains of two Iron Age roundhouses dating back to between 150 and 100BC, plus pieces of Iron Age pottery and several querns, which are stones used to grind grain.

“The settlement would have been a small farmstead which provided a subsistence economy for an extended family of a dozen or so people” explained Dr Patrick Clay, co-director of Archaeological Services at the University of Leicester.

“The next stage is to analyse the finds, do some work on the pottery and tighten up the information we’ve got.”

The roundhouses at the site would have been circular timber structures coated with daub, with conical, thatched roofs.

The largest one discovered at the site was about nine metres in diameter.

Dr Clay estimated that up to 20 people would have lived there, probably in an extended family group.

“It’s a typical small farmstead of the area, providing a subsistence economy for the people who lived there” he said.

An Open Day to discuss the finds with the man who ran the dig for the University - Archaeological Services field officer Wayne Jarvis - will take place on the site off Newlands Road, Welford, on Friday, January 8, at 9.30am.

Visitors should report to the site supervisor.

Amongst the visitors will be children from the village school - Welford, Sibbertoft and Sulby Endowed School.

The school’s headteacher Michelle Pye said: “To have history on the doorstep like this is really valuable.”

Developers Mears New Homes will start construction work on the site, which is south of Newlands Road at the edge of the village, in March.

The developers will be building a small estate of 38 new homes.

A spokesman said the developers hoped to erect a pictoral plaque to reflect the site’s fascinating building history.