Iron Age settlement is unearthed at mine site

An Iron Age settlement unearthed during an archaeological dig at the Brenkley Lane surface mine.
An Iron Age settlement unearthed during an archaeological dig at the Brenkley Lane surface mine.

Fascinating insights into ancient history have been unearthed by archaeologists working at a south east Northumberland surface mine.

Excavations carried out by Headland Archaeology at the Brenkley Lane Surface Mine on behalf of operators Banks Mining, have revealed a sprawling Iron Age settlement across a five-hectare area which is centred on four roundhouses within a double rectangular enclosure.

The two month-long dig has revealed a complex series of archaeological features spread across the site, with the remains being grouped into three main phases of activity.

The majority of the remains uncovered relate to an extensive period of occupation during the Iron Age, and date back well over two thousand years.

They consist of a series of large rectangular ditches enclosing several concentrations of ring gullies, which are the foundation trenches of the settlement’s buildings.

Pits and other linear features, such as boundary and enclosure ditches, have also been uncovered, with the central enclosed area containing closely aligned ring gullies that suggested buildings had been rebuilt several times.

Ed Bailey, project manager at Headland Archaeology, said: “The results of our work have added to the growing body of Iron Age sites around Newcastle that have been excavated in recent years which suggests a dynamic landscape of interrelated settlements across the area during this period.”

“We’ve now begun post-excavation analysis on our findings with a view to submitting the completed report next year.”