Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions No.123: Tooth and Bone

Blackbird Farm - which stood at the foot of Burn Hill for at least 300 years - was demolished in the 1950s to make way for a pub, which was in turn demolished a few years ago as the site had been purchased for the development of a new supermarket. 

Preliminary digging at the site at the time revealed the old foundations of Blackbird Farm, as well as a complex of cellars that had previously been filled in. The remains of Roman amphorae dating back 1900 years - as well as iron age flints - were also unearthed in the vicinity, indicating that the site had probably been inhabited for a significant period of time. These discoveries caused the building of the supermaket to be suspended whilst the archaeological significance of the site could be assessed. 

The cellars of the old farm were subsequently excavated, revealing a number of curious things: that parts of the cellar walls were of Roman origin; that there was some sort of well - covered by a seemingly unmovable circular stone inscribed with iron age petroglyphs - in what appeared to be the oldest part of the cellars; and that partial human remains were scattered throughout the cellar complex. Soon after, Horsingdon Council intervened, and their behest the site was concreted over. 

The reasons for this remain unclear; however, I was recently told by one of the archaeologist present at the dig that the uncovered human remains included bones from a wide spread of historical periods,  some of which were at at least 3000 years old, and others that had been deposited at the site as recently as the late 1940s; In addition to which, the bones - regardless of age - uniformly bore evidence of human teeth marks - as well as of other, elongated forms of indentation that were from a less-readily identifiable species.

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