CAIRO – 1 March 2022: Beneath the green fields and woods of rural Northamptonshire in Britain lies the largest archaeological excavation in British history.
More than 100 excavations have begun along 134 miles of the HS2 high-speed rail route being built between London and Birmingham as part of a £900m project.
Finds under this area of central England include a Neolithic wooden statue and Roman statues of a man, woman and child under an abandoned Norman church at Stoke Mandeville. This is in addition to the body of Captain Matthew Flinders, who led the first circumnavigation of Australia. It is one of more than 50,000 skeletons exhumed from a cemetery near Euston in London.
Also, a Roman villa was found nearby in the 1830s but was "excavated and very poorly recorded" by typical Victorian amateur excavations, English archaeologist James West told The Guardian.
“I knew there was something special when digging around here for the first time, so I pushed hard to come back here. What was discovered - an Iron Age settlement that later became a prosperous Roman trading city that exceeded my expectations as the volume and quality of the finds were more than we thought. We discovered iron shackles and pottery decorated with hunting scenes in Northamptonshire,” James West says.
James West's team includes Spanish, Greek, French, German and Australian archaeologists.
Another archaeologist, John Holt, says: “Most of the coins discovered date back to the Roman period. It was minted cheaply in Britain during the reign of Constantine II in the fourth century, including the Valentinian coin, which depicts the emperor dragging a captive with him.”