Home archaeology The Discovery of One of the Largest 1st Century BC Townships in...

The Discovery of One of the Largest 1st Century BC Townships in Britain

Archaeologists and students from Bournemouth University (BU) in England have unearthed a previously unknown prehistoric town. They have called it “Duropolis” after the Celtic Iron Age Durotriges tribe that is believed to have lived in the settlement in the 1st century BC.

There are 16 roundhouses that have been unearthed and more than 150 other roundhouse-associated features that have been identified through geophysical surveys.

It is one of the earliest and largest open settlements to be unearthed in Britain.

The find could shed light on what happened to the prehistoric inhabitants of Maiden Castle when they moved on from the hill-fort in the 1st century BC. The township is one of the largest ever discovered in Britain and also shed light on what life was like for our ancestors before the Roman invasion in the middle of the 1st century AD, BU wrote.

Durotriges Big Dig 2015:

Dr. Miles Russell, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University and co-director of the Durotriges Big Dig, said: “We’ve exposed remains of 16 roundhouses in the two trenches we’ve dug. They are pre-Roman house structures, the last that inhabitants would have been living in before the Romans arrived. We know that there are around 200 of these across this area, so we’ve got ourselves a prehistoric town or proto-urban settlement.

“What we’ve discovered is extremely significant for the whole of Southern Britain because in the past, archaeologists have tended to look at really obvious sites, like the big hill-fort of Maiden Castle, near Dorchester. What we have here is an extensive open settlement, not a hill fort, so it wasn’t visible as a settlement from the earthwork on the landscape. What we’ve discovered is one of the earliest and largest open settlements in Britain.”

, “We’ve exposed remains of 16 roundhouses in the two trenches we’ve dug. They are pre-Roman house structures, the last that inhabitants would have been living in before the Romans arrived.  (Screenshot/YouTube)
‘We’ve exposed remains of 16 roundhouses in the two trenches we’ve dug. They are pre-Roman house structures, the last that inhabitants would have been living in before the Romans arrived.’ (Screenshot/YouTube)

Paul Cheetham, another co-director on the dig and also an archaeologist at BU, continued: “What this suggests is that there are other big centers of occupation before the Roman arrival; this is a big open settlement, probably one of the first that the Romans encountered when they arrived.  It exposes the myth that everyone lived in protected hill forts—these inhabitants lived in this fertile farmland, away from the traditional hill forts we are all used to hearing about.”

The made the discovery as part of their studies this year, the students also found animal bone remains (which were the subject of this Independent article), quern-stones (used for grinding), spindle whorls (used in weaving), and metalworking debris, all the things you would expect to find from a township.

According to BU, the Durotriges Big Dig, hosted yearly by Bournemouth University, gives students hands-on experience with a live archaeological site. In previous years, students have uncovered Roman villas and skeletal remains, as well as a host of archaeological artifacts.

How school has changed—lucky kids.

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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