2,000-year-old body found in Watton

Human remains thought to be nearly 2,000 years old have been unearthed at a building site in Norfolk.

The man's body, found crouched in a burial pit, could date back to Roman times and is the latest in a string of fascinating discoveries to be made at the former RAF Watton base.

Experts working at the site have previously uncovered six Bronze Age axes while a Bronze Age round barrow with a cremation urn and five other cremation burials were found at the end of 2010.

Analysis of the skeleton has so far revealed the man had been suffering from osteoarthritis in his spine and further tests are now under way to find out more about his origins.

A single shard of pottery was also found within the grave, suggesting that the burial dates from AD43 to AD410.

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Archeologists have been working at the former RAF radar site, off Norwich Road, as Bennett Homes prepares to start work on a new 154-home housing development there.

Initial test trenches uncovered a small Bronze Age barrow measuring around six metres in diameter and the body was found nearby when Northampton Archeology began excavating it in November last year.

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Senior archeologist Andy Chapman said the main burial would have been at the centre of the barrow, while the rest of the cremated remains would have been added at a later date.

Mr Chapman said it was not unusual for Romans to re-use barrows, which would explain the body's presence at the site.

The barrow is thought to date from the mid Bronze Age, a time when people stopped using round barrows.

'The fact that it's a smaller barrow perhaps reflects that times were changing,' he added.

Edward Parker, managing director of Bennett Homes, said: 'Our site at Watton has been the scene of a number of important discoveries in recent years and the latest is no exception. It is fascinating to see how well the remains have been preserved.

'Further work is now under way, including radio carbon dating, which it is hoped will confirm the dates of the various burials more accurately.'

Bennett Homes bought the site in 1998 and currently has outline planning permission for the housing development.

Mr Parker said a full munitions survey had also been completed because of the nature of the site and the fact it had been bombed during the second world war.

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