Iron Age skeleton found during dig

A SKELETON believed to date from the Iron Age has been discovered in the Peak District by archaeologists on a Lottery-funded dig.

The three-week excavation, at the site of an ancient hill fort near Monsal Head, was carried out by Longstone Local History Group, who uncovered items which could date from as long ago as 700 BC.

The prehistoric skeleton was found in a two-metre deep ditch outside the ramparts of the fort, and appeared to have been flung into the pit with rocks thrown on top of it – possibly after a fight or violent incident.

More than 78 volunteers worked on the excavation, as well as 160 schoolchildren.

A group of pupils from Longstone CE Primary School, Bakewell, discovered hundreds of stone tools dating from 10500 to 3900 BC, including microliths, which were used as barbs on hunting weapons.

The dig was funded using a Heritage Lottery grant of 49,000, and volunteers were given just three weeks to complete their work before restoring the site to its former state.

Ann Hall, project manager at Longstone Local History Group, said: "We all feel very privileged to have been given permission to investigate below the surface of this scheduled ancient monument, even for just a short time.

"The site is on private land with no public access and now we have restored the land.

"The skeleton has been carefully removed along with all the finds. These will be analysed by specialists to give us much more information about what happened in the past."

Samples from the fort were taken for carbon dating, which should pinpoint when the fort was built, as well as the destruction of its defences.

Work will go on over the next few months to establish the skeleton's age, sex and possible region of origin.

The results of the excavation will be presented at a Derbyshire Archaeology Day at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield, next January 16.

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