Size of Iron Age village surprises diggers

January 31, 1997

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL team from Leicester University has discovered a cluster of some of the largest circular Iron Age buildings in Britain.

The discovery at Enderby in Leicestershire sheds light on the pattern of Iron Age settlements, according to Patrick Clay, assistant director of Leicester Archaeological Services and project overseer.

The team has found an advanced farming community with the remains of 14 circular structures built over 200 years before the Roman invasion of ad43. Many were built in pairs, the larger ones for families, the smaller serving as a kitchen.

Archaeologists were surprised at the size of the structures, which measure up to 12 metres across. "What it shows is managed woodland where they can grow trees which are straight enough to build these large structures," said Dr Clay. The buildings demonstrate a high level of skill, some being constructed without a central post.

The community protected itself with deep ditches but may have disappeared by the time of the Roman invasion.

The site near the Roman road, the Fosse way, could mean that the Roman road followed an existing Iron Age trackway, according to Dr Clay.

The excavation was funded by the developers Centre 21 Ltd, which is building a business park on the site.

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