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Schoolchildren digging up the past in Ashton Keynes
5:15pm Friday 29th June 2012 in News
Iron Age houses and pre-historic flint tools are just some of the artefacts that have been found by Thames Water engineers in fields near Royal Wootton Bassett.
Children from Ashton Keynes School were invited to the dig site where the water company is working to replace 3km of pipe uncovered their village’s ancient past.
Archaeology experts discovered evidence of pre-Roman housing and even older tools from around 8,000 years ago while working to replace the water main between Ashton Keynes and the Flaxlands reservoir Some of the more interesting finds included a mysterious paw print in some left over iron from smelting.
Whether a wolf wandered through an unattended iron works or a beloved pet was immortalised in metal, archaeologists have yet to uncover the truth.
Mike Lang-Hall, an archaeologist for Optimise working on behalf on Thames Water, said: "We’ve found evidence of a farming settlement from the Iron Age, showing us life here just before the Roman occupation of Britain 2,000 years ago.
"There are two circular houses with outlying pits and ditches that were often used to store grain.
"And even older than that, we've had some really interesting finds from the Mesolithic period where we’ve uncovered flint tools that are up to 8,000 years old. This is very exciting as it's the first time anyone has ever found any evidence of Mesolithic man living in this area."
Katie Thomas, a teacher at Ashton Keynes School, said: "It’s exciting to see what the village was like further back in time and to hear that people lived her 8,000 years ago.
"With the work going on here, we’ve been learning about water engineering and the great stink in London, but now we’ll be able to do the Iron Age too."
Thames Water is replacing 3km of 16-inch main which has burst 30 times in the last 10 years.
The new pipe is being laid between Gosditch and the Three Bridges and work is expected to be completed by December.