Local gas storage facility making historic discoveries

23rd December 2009

An East Yorkshire-based gas storage facility has been making some incredible discoveries after six months of archeological excavations in advance of construction work starting at the site.

A team from Humber Field Archaeology has been working on the Centrica Storage Limited (CSL) site at Caythorpe, carefully extracting and investigating remains of prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon date.

Perhaps the most amazing discovery made during the work on the pipeline at the site so far is that of a late Iron age (pre-Roman) iron sword and spearhead, recovered from the grave of what archaeologist’s believe to be a warrior. This discovery is the first of its kind in the region for over 25 years.

The sword and spearhead are contents removed from just one of five graves, which have been investigated. Some surrounded by distinctive square ditches, typical of burial of this period in East Yorkshire.

In addition, discoveries have been made along the route of the new pipeline, possibly dating from the Neolithic period, including a substantial circular monument 16m in diameter and defined by a ditch around 2m wide and 1m deep, within which large pits were recorded which appeared to have held upright timber posts. This may have been associated with religious ceremonies and burial rites with pits nearby containing evidence of ritual feasting, including numerous animal bones and burnt material. A further series of pits had been cut into the infilled ditch, some of which contained the burials dating back to the Bronze Age, including one containing fragments of a decorated pottery vessel.

One of the more unusual discoveries was an Anglo Saxon skeleton buried not below ground but underneath large chalk rocks. It is difficult to draw precise conclusions about what happened in this poor person’s case but the find leaves a lot to the imagination.

Don Reid, business owner of Centrica Gas Storage projects, said: “The work that Humber Field Archaeology has completed and the artefacts that they unearthed will help us to build upon our knowledge of how people lived during these time periods. The discoveries, dating back as far as the Neolithic period, are an incredible find and we are proud to have been involved in this groundbreaking work. Undertaking work of this nature is very important to us and we are delighted that it has unearthed some interesting finds that we are sure will be of interest to people ahead of work beginning at the site in 2010.”

Peter Cardwell, a leading local archaeological and heritage consultant, said, “We’ve made several significant finds at Caythorpe. The excavations at the site will enable many important archaeological remains to be investigated, most of which were previously unknown or had been seen only via aerial photography.

“The date of these remains spans several thousands of years so the results of the excavations and the analysis of the finds recovered over the coming months, will enable a much more detailed history to be established and understood in this part of the East Yorkshire landscape.”

The finds will be analysed once the work is completed in early January and exhibited at a later date for the wider public to view.