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Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered at Rothley

Leicester archaeologists have recently excavated a Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery under former allotments at Rothley in Leicestershire.

The project has offered a rare opportunity to investigate how different generations have re-used ancient sacred places, with Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon people possibly making connections with Bronze Age barrow builders in order to create their own sense of place in the landscape.

A team of archaeologists, led by Dr Gavin Speed from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) has spent the winter investigating the site and uncovering exciting new evidence for Rothley’s ancient past dating back some 6,000 years.

One of the main focuses of the excavation was a Bronze Age barrow measuring over 30 metres in diameter. The earth mound had not survived subsequent generations of ploughing but the surrounding near-circular ditch was still present with cremation burials close to the ditch edge. The monument broadly dates to 2000-700 BC and more precise dating will be possible following future detailed finds analysis and scientific dating.

Results of the project show that the Rothley barrow has been used repeatedly, creating a long history of activity in the vicinity which shows that it must have acted as an important landmark in the local area.

Dr Speed, Senior Supervisor at ULAS, said: “By the Iron Age the barrow had partly eroded and its ditches had silted up but much of the mound was likely still upstanding, making it a visible landmark in the local landscape even if its original purpose and meaning had changed.”

Re-use of round barrows during the Anglo-Saxon period is a fairly common occurrence in England. However, there are very few known instances in Leicestershire and the recent discovery at Rothley, with at least twelve burials, is only the second and largest confirmed example to be excavated.

ULAS would like to thank Persimmons Homes for funding the project and for their help and co-operation during the excavation; and the Natural and Built Environment team at Charnwood Borough Council for their advice and support.

  • This weekend (23-24 July), as part of the Festival of Archaeology, Rothley residents will be digging test pits around the village with the help of volunteers and University of Leicester archaeologists to find out more about the village’s early history. For more information on this Charnwood Roots Community Dig please visit the website or contact Julie Attard on jad17@le.ac.uk
  • Press release
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