Bronze Age settlement discovered in Chichester

A Bronze Age settlement and part of the ancient Chichester Entrenchments have been unexpectedly uncovered.

Friday, 7th April 2017, 2:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm
The 3,500sqm excavation site showing the triangular Bronze Age enclosure within the dark, perpendicular ditches coming from the top, and the thick, grey verticle line shows part of the Chichester Enthrenchments. Picture by Archaeology South-East (UCL)

Archaeologists excavating land to the north-west of Chichester over the last few weeks have made the exciting discovery.

Investigations have revealed a Bronze Age enclosure which dates to circa 1,500 to 1,000BC, with features that contained large sherds of well preserved pottery.

Equally significant is the unexpected discovery of a previously unconfirmed section of the Chichester Entrenchments – a series of huge, earthworks which were constructed around the city from the later Iron Age, circa 100BC onwards.

Jon Sygrave, project manager for Archaeology South-East (UCL), said: “We’ve uncovered a section of the Chichester Entrenchments, which probably infilled during the mid Roman period.

“The section we found is about 9m wide and 2.5m deep and would have had an associated huge earth bank.

“The entrenchments show that Chichester was a significant area during the Iron Age over 2,000 years ago, before the Romans settled there.”

The boundary of the Bronze Age enclosure is shown in this aerial photograph as the two dark, perpendicular lines coming down from the top of the 3,500sqm excavation site.

The thick vertical line shows the previously unconfirmed section of the Chichester Entrenchments.

The archaeological investigations have been undertaken by Archaeology South-East, UCL, on behalf of MGJV and Southern Water ahead of the proposed installation of a new main sewer.

A 1,600-home development is planned nearby, with 750 homes already approved.

Mr Sygrave added: “As archaeologists we don’t get the chance to investigate the entrenchments very often, as most known sections are Scheduled Ancient Monuments and protected under law.

“This was a previously unknown section so it’s an important find in the history of Chichester.

“We’ve only just finished on the site and we’ve made quite a lot of interesting pottery finds which should provide good dating evidence.

“Once we’ve had the chance to clean and study them we’ll know more.”

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