A COMPLETE skeleton of a Bronze Age man dating back to 2,000 BC and buried with a beaker pot has been unearthed near Amesbury.

Archaeologists this week confirmed that the skeleton was that of a man aged between 30 and 40 and that the bones and the beaker pot in the grave were in good condition.

Although more recent than the famous Amesbury Archer, which dates to 2,400BC, the latest find is exciting, as it is yet another important discovery in an area rich in Stone Age and Bronze Age artefacts.

The skeleton was found by contractors digging a trench for water mains on the grass verge of Boscombe Road, close to Imber Avenue.

Workmen first noticed part of a skull last Thursday morning and called in Colin Kirby and Bob Clarke, resident archaeologists at the science consultancy company QinetiQ, at Boscombe Down.

They alerted Wessex Archaeology at Old Sarum, who, over two days, excavated the skeleton and took it back to their laboratories for further research.

Tony Trueman, spokesman for Wessex Archaeology, said both the skeleton and the Bronze Age beaker pot were in good condition.

He described the find as "very interesting" and said that part of Amesbury remained "an important area for Britain".

In May this year, the bones of six people, dating to 2,300BC, were found in one grave close to the Spar shop at Boscombe Down, only a few hundred yards from the latest find.

In May last year, the famous Amesbury Archer was discovered, less than half-a-mile away.

Mr Trueman said the new Amesbury find was "not unexpected" but was nevertheless important.

He said the area around that part of Amesbury showed its importance when Britain was moving from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age.

Beaker-style pottery is often found in Bronze Age burials.

When the six bodies were unearthed, four beaker pots were found. Archaeologists said it was rare to find so many bodies and pots in one grave.

The Amesbury Archer was the richest found in Britain. It contained about 100 items, including hair tresses and the earliest gold in the country.

The discovery of the six people in one grave and the latest find near Imber Avenue were both made by contractors working for Amec, laying new mains services and upgrading roads and pavements on the former Boscombe Down married quarters.

Stuart Price, project manager for Amec, said the latest find followed a pattern similar to that of just over a month ago, when the six bodies were found.

He said: "As soon as the skull was spotted, archaeologists were called in and they were able to excavate the skeleton and the pot and take them away."