Iron Age village found at UK school building site

Animal remains are seen at a school in south London in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Handout/Sutton Council

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Ancient human infant and animal remains believed to be more than 2,000 years old have been unearthed during the construction of a school in London. Archaeologists say the discovery, one of the most important in the British capital in recent years, points to evidence of an Iron Age and early Roman farming settlement.

Experts say the find is important because similar sites from the period in the area have been destroyed by later development.

Excavations have revealed child and animal burials -- some dating from Roman rule -- dotted across the south London site as well as an assortment of weaponry, including a spear and a shield.

“A very large number of domestic animal skeletons have been recovered -- including horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs,” said lead archaeologist Duncan Hawkins.

“These animals which were either whole or partly dismembered appear to have been deliberately sacrificed and deposited in deep pits cut into the chalk bed rock.”

Early Iron Age features, including a livestock pathway, shallow gullies and pits have also been identified.

Builders stumbled over the remains while laying the foundations for Stanley Park High School in Sutton.

The site is just a stone’s throw from one of the largest late Bronze Age hilltop enclosures in southeast England, found in the early 20th century. It is not known whether the two settlements are connected.

Writing by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Matt Falloon and Paul Casciato