Wessex Archaeology has found a settlement dating back to the Iron Age on land being prepared for the construction of a new railway station and platform, as part of plans to reinstate the old Northumberland Line.
The new 18-mile track, which will stop at Bedlington, Blyth, Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park Metro station, recently received final ministerial approval and construction work is due to begin this summer.
But before that can happen, the land needs to be checked for any archaeological significance, which is why investigations are being carried out in a farmer’s field west of the line.
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So far, they have revealed the presence of a rectangular enclosure with a central circular feature, most likely a roundhouse.
Although relatively few artefacts have been discovered, several other circular features have also been located. Taken together, the evidence suggests an enclosed settlement or farmstead, established during the Iron Age/early Romano-British period.
Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a fascinating snapshot into what life was like in our county thousands of years ago.
“We know Northumberland has a rich and interesting history, and to see it close up is a real find.
“As we begin to create our own little bit of history in bringing back passenger trains to this line, it’s worth remembering that progress and innovation is nothing new.”
These investigations will allow the archaeologists to recover and record information from the site, including artefacts and soil samples, all of which will add to an understanding of the environment, life and practices of the people who lived in South East Northumberland thousands of years ago.
Assistant county archaeologist Nick Best said: “South East Northumberland is more typically associated with industrial heritage, including early railways and wagonways.
“This excavation reminds us that this area was part of thriving agricultural landscape from at least the Iron Age until after the coming of the railways.”
Passenger services last operated on the Northumberland Line in the 1960s.