Just occasionally, archaeologists get to go hunting for new archaeological sites without any development pressure, and this month Catherine Barnett and Phil Harding from Wessex Archaeology did just that. Working with a team from the University of Reading led by Martin Bell, and with funding from English Heritage, they excavated a small (2m x 2m) trial trench in Victoria Park, Newbury. The location of the trench was determined by an exploratory geophysical survey conducted at the site last summer, and by further coring work done earlier this year.  
The excavation revealed the top of a well preserved Mesolithic occupation site. The presence of flint artefacts, including microliths and cores, as well as butchered animal bone, including roe deer, and charcoal, tells us that people were living, making tools and preparing food on this spot around 10,000 years ago. The sediments recorded in the trench show that there was a bubbling freshwater spring close by – Victoria Park is a nice place now and it seems it was a nice place then! 
Further analysis of the artefacts and environmental samples will now take place back in the lab, in order to find out what the local environment was like during the Mesolithic, and what resources this hunter-gatherer group might have been using.
Written by Dr Catherine Barnett