Clockwise from left: A decorated jet stone from the Bronze Age; evidence of a potential ancient burial monument from the late Neolithic/early Bronze age; a cremation deposit from the early to middle Bronze Age
Clockwise from left: A decorated jet stone from the Bronze Age; evidence of a potential ancient burial monument from the late Neolithic/early Bronze age; a cremation deposit from the early to middle Bronze Age

Archaeological artefacts of national significance, dating back to the Neolithic period, have been uncovered at the site of a major housing project.

Developers Urban&Civic invited a team of experts from Oxford Archaeology North to lead extensive excavations at the site of its Middlebeck development in Newark.

The company also asked local community and history groups, including the Newark and Nottingham Young Archaeologist Clubs and Farndon Archaeological Research Investigations, to undertake excavation visits.

More than 3,000 homes are to be built to the west and east of Bowbridge Lane.

Finds by the Oxford Archaeo-logy team, led by Dr Adam Tinsley, were from as far back as the early Neolithic Age from 4,000 to 3,500BC.

Despite Newark’s rich history, the team admitted it was not expecting to make the finds it had done so far.

They are believed to be some of the most significant in the country and indicate an intensely occupied landscape over a long time period.

The finds include Romano-British period pottery kilns; the remains of numerous round houses relating to Iron Age or even earlier occupation; an early Neolithic axe; a decorated jet stone artefact from the Bronze Age; and a potential late Neolithic/early Bronze Age henge (monument consisting of a circle of stone or wooden uprights) and cremation cemetery dating to around 2,500-1,500BC.

More work will be done to pin down and refine the dating of the site and draw out further details of the sequence of development.

The findings have been recorded and preserved by the archaeological team, paving the way for work on the Middlebeck development to continue.

'The finds on site are fascinating'

Dr Adam Tinsley, project manager at Oxford Archaeology, said: “The range of periods represented — from 4,000 BC right up to the 19th Century — indicate a long-lived and intensely-occupied landscape.

“We are delighted to have been invited to work on this rich site, draw out a deeper understanding of life in the Newark area as it unfolded through the ages, and be able to preserve the findings for future generations.

“The archaeological finds on site are fascinating. This project has enabled us to uncover artefacts that would otherwise have gone undiscovered.

“More work is required in order to accurately date the finds, as our current estimates are approximate.”

Ursilla Spence, archaeological lead at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The work carried out on site is indicative of the quality of finds across the wider Newark area.

“We look forward to working with the team and Urban&Civic to record elements uncovered as excavations continue.”

Johanne Thomas, communities and partnerships for Urban&Civic, said: “The excavations have unearthed the area’s fascinating history as a hub of activity and, in fact, a community thousands of years ago.

“We look forward to using some of these findings and inspiration from them to transform the land into a new community for the future, vibrant with new homes, amenities and green spaces.”

In addition to 3,150 new homes, the Middlebeck project will provide new schools, community facilities and extensive green spaces and amenities, including walkways, footpaths and cycleways.