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Major archaeological find at Norfolk quarry


"THE first archaeological project financed from the Aggregates Tax Sustainability Fund has uncovered remains of international significance in a quarry near Thetford, Norfolk."

"Recent excavations at the quarry have revealed 50,000-year-old flint tools and mammoth remains from what archaeologists believe could prove to be the best-preserved open-air Neanderthal butchery site ever discovered in Britain."

"Sand and gravel deposits have been quarried at the site since 1954, but the current operations by May Gurney, on a new section of the site, date back only two years. The first of the recent discoveries –– a mammoth tusk –– was made by excavator driver Eric Perfect while digging out a 3m deep layer of peat."

"May Gurney immediately called in the Norfolk Museum and Archaeological Service and informed English Heritage, and an £80,000 grant from the tax fund has allowed a team of 20 archaeologists to work on the dig."

"‘The experts do not know exactly what might have been happening on this site,’ said Ian Findlater, managing director of May Gurney Highways and Utilities, who operate the quarry. ‘However, the remains suggest an old river channel where a group of wandering Neanderthals encountered mammoths, woolly rhinos and reindeer."

"‘While it is doubtful whether they had the equipment or the skills necessary to kill the animals themselves, they certainly butchered them at the site, as the flint tools demonstrate.’"

"According to Mr Findlater, the excavations have not been a major inconvenience for May Gurney. ‘As soon as the discovery was made we withdrew from that part of the site and re-phased the extraction areas to give the archaeologists sufficient time to recover everything,’ he said."

"This is not the first time a May Gurney quarry has turned up archaeological remains of great significance. Last summer, at a site in Shropham, Norfolk, an Iron Age settlement –– the first to be uncovered since the 1930s, –– was revealed. It featured in a recent Channel 4 programme about the legendary Queen Boudicca."


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