Iron Age skeletons unearthed in England

4 found on pipeline dig, 2 with sword wounds in the hip

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LONDON — It’s not your usual tweet from a water utility.

“We unearthed a footless skeleton with two sheep on her head in Wiltshire,” read the March 25 posting on Twitter by Wessex Water Services, a water and sewage company serving southwestern England.

Accompanying the online post was a photo of a spine, hip, leg and assorted bones believed to date from the Iron Age being examined by an archaeologist brought in by Wessex Water, which serves the Bristol, Bath and Bournemouth areas.

What archaeologists have discovered so far as they scour Wiltshire during $333 million worth of water supply and pipeline works “is quite amazing,” Wessex Water spokeswoman Lucy McCormick said Friday by phone.

“A 10-year-old with a sword wound in the hip,” she said. “A lady without her feet with a couple of sheep on her head” that staff think were re-buried with her in a shallow site as a means to “ward off bad spirits.”

In total four skeletons thought to be from the Iron Age that lasted in Britain from 800 BC to the time of the Roman conquest that began in AD 43 have been unearthed in fields along the A303 motorway near West Knoyle, the company said.

Two were found with sword wounds to their hips. Three were male. Carbon testing may show further details including a more precise time of burial, diet or diseases, the company said on its website.

Bones were carefully removed from the sites, will be cleaned, cataloged, then undergo radiocarbon dating.