Work at new nuclear power plant uncovers wealth of historic gems
FROME Society for Local Study and Frome and District Civic Society enjoyed a talk on the archaeology of Hinkley Point by Rachel Bellamy at its October meeting.
Archaeological excavations are taking place ahead of EDF Energy's proposed development of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.
The planning process has identified seven areas of archaeological potential within the proposed development site. Excavations are taking place to investigate these and record any discoveries.
The area around Hinkley Point is rich in archaeological remains. Wick Barrow is located outside the entrance to Hinkley Point B and is a burial mound which dates from about 4,500 years ago.
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A hillfort at Cannington dates from 2,500 years ago and there is a nearby cemetery from Saxon times. There are also 12th-century castle remains at Stogursey. The advantages of the site for these early inhabitants included easy access to the sea and a nearby port.
The work is ongoing and a full picture of those who lived here has yet to emerge. Finds so far include small flint tools used for hunting or fishing, and also for skinning and cutting animal flesh.
Evidence of Bronze Age settlement includes weights for fishing nets showing that settlers caught and cooked fish. Several pits of rubbish have been found, containing pottery shards.
Post holes from an earlier fence were also unearthed, although it is not known what it was used for.
Iron Age settlement is indicated by round houses, jewellery and amphorae fragments. A rare find was that of a Sunken Featured Building (a pit beneath the building allowed the creation of a suspended wooden floor as a protection against damp).
More recent occupation shows medieval land strips and later maps show farm buildings up until the 1950s.
More excavation is planned for 2014 but ultimately the site will be built over. With it being one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe, it occupies a space equivalent to 250 football pitches.
The next meeting of the Frome Society for Local Studies and Frome and District Civic Society will be at 2.30pm on Saturday in Frome Assembly Rooms when Richard Raynsford will speak on Somerset in the Second World War. entry is £2 for non-members.