COTSWOLD archaeologists have unearthed new wonders near Stonehenge.

Workers on a housing development in Harnham, near Salisbury, have uncovered items that could date back to 10,000 BC.

The finds, which include pottery and knives, are just eight miles south of the world-famous prehistoric monument.

Cotswold Archaeology has worked with developers Vistry Group on the recent excavation and, amongst other archaeological features, the team has uncovered five Bronze Age barrows (circa 2400 BC – 700 BC) spread across two excavation areas.

There are also ten burials, three unurned cremation burials, Iron Age lynchets, a large number of pits and postholes – dating from the Neolithic and Late Bronze Age – plus pottery, knives and red deer antler.

The site is planned to see 640 new homes built on the south western edge of Salisbury.

Richard Greatorex, principal fieldwork manager at Cotswold Archaeology, said: “Five rivers converge in Salisbury: the Nadder from the west, the Ebble from the south-west, the Wylye from the north-west, the Avon from the north, and the Bourne from the north-east.

"The abundance of water has inevitably attracted human occupation from the Mesolithic onwards (10,000 BC – 4000 BC), which has led to some interesting findings."

Cotswold Journal: 640 new homes are due to be built on the site640 new homes are due to be built on the site (Image: SWNS)

This stage of archaeological works commenced in November 2022 and is ongoing, with artefacts from the site currently moving through post-excavation analysis.

The early excavations identified possible occupation and farming activity dating to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age (1100 BC – 400 BC), which is relatively rare in Wiltshire, and a large number of pits and postholes – over 240 – which appear to be agricultural in nature.

Beaker pottery (dated between 2600 BC – 1800 BC) and a Neolithic pot were unearthed at the site, as well as a Late Bronze Age spindle whirl.

In addition, prehistoric flint tools were discovered, including a micro denticulate/serrated blade – essentially a small saw – and three British Oblique arrowheads, which was the type in use during the Late Neolithic period (3000 BC – 2400 BC).

A Saxon waterhole was exposed, containing preserved timbers, which will be analysed. The team also recovered Anglo-Saxon pottery, a possible buckle and two knives, also likely to be Anglo-Saxon, based on the style of the blades.

Interestingly, the most recent finding was a cache of red deer antler, discovered in a pit and likely to be Neolithic (4000 BC – 2400 BC).

Deer antler was highly prized and used for making hand picks, or sometimes attached to straight wooden handles to make pitchforks and rakes. It was also turned into combs and pins, tools, and weapons like mace heads and hatchets, or used as part of ritual activities.

Cotswold Journal: A deer antler was among the items uncoveredA deer antler was among the items uncovered (Image: SWNS)

Cotswold Archaeology’s publications manager, Pippa Bradley, said: “Our animal bone and worked bone specialists will look at these artefacts to see if there are any observable traces of deliberate breakage, or patterns of wear. These could suggest modification for use – for example, the burrs and tines can be used for flint knapping, as hammers, or for pressure flaking of flints to make tools.”

Steve Bush, Cotswold Archaeology’s onsite project leader, added: “Developer-led archaeology projects now make up the majority of archaeological discoveries in the UK and help to increase our knowledge of the past enormously.

"The site has uncovered some brilliant archaeology and has been an amazing opportunity for our archaeologists to excavate and better understand how this area fits into a wider landscape of settlement.”