Roman and Stone Age history at Linmere

Archaeologists who uncovered fascinating Stone Age and Roman remains at the new community, Linmere, being created next to Houghton Regis are encouraging residents to discover the history on their doorstep during the National Festival of Archaeology which is taking place throughout the country

The event, which began on July 17 and continues until August 1, is organised by the Council for British Archaeology.

This year’s theme, Exploring Local Places, urges residents across the UK to discover their area’s local archaeological history by delving into the stories of the people and communities who lived there hundreds and thousands of years ago.

Recent archaeological excavations at the site on which Linmere is being developed give a tantalising glimpse into domestic life in previous centuries and millennia.

Heritage experts, Bedford-based Albion Archaeology, partnered with Linmere developers before work began on the site and made numerous interesting discoveries which shed light on how previous generations lived in the area.

Intriguing finds include the 8,000-year-old horn of an auroch, wild cattle which became extinct in the UK in the Bronze Age, and a shard of pottery from a Roman flagon dating back to the second or third century which had an unexpected addition.

Albion Archaeology business manager Hester Cooper-Reade explained: “The investigations have revealed a wealth of information about the life of the inhabitants of Linmere across nearly 8,000 years of history. The Latin inscription on the Roman flagon is an interesting and unusual find; it has been translated as ‘for a flagon of the gods Jupiter and Vulcan.’ Perhaps it contained wine to refresh worshippers of these two gods.”

Finds also included pits dating back to the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic periods of the Stone Age, evidence of houses, farmsteads and burials from the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age and several later Iron Age and Roman rural settlement sites. One of these contained drying ovens, houses, farmsteads, and burials. The excavations also revealed the remains of some Saxon buildings and evidence of mediaeval field systems.

After they have been studied by specialists, the finds from the dig will go to Luton’s Wardown House museum.

Linmere development director Nigel Reid said: “The archaeological finds give a fascinating insight into how our predecessors lived. They demonstrate that the land has been occupied for millennia and illustrate that we at Linmere are continuing the cycle of life into future generations. We doubt ancient cattle will be roaming the paths and wildlife havens we are creating, but newer, smaller species will doubtless be making homes in our parks, copses and water features”

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