Exploring our past, preparing for the future
More than 1,000 archaeologists, specialists, scientists and conservators will be exploring and recording over 60 archaeological sites for HS2. As part of HS2’s enabling works, they will reveal over 10,000 years of British history.
Their work will range from the Prehistoric period, through Roman Britain, the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval ages, the Industrial Revolution, to World War 2. HS2’s archaeology programme is Europe’s biggest dig and promises to provide a fascinating insight into the everyday lives of the people and communities who made modern Britain.
A wealth of archaeology finds have been revealed by HS2 archaeological work at Wellwick Farm, near Wendover in Buckinghamshire, on the HS2 line of route.
Archaeologists working on the HS2 project in Buckinghamshire have discovered a skeleton believed to be a murder victim from the Iron Age. Other discoveries at the site span over 4,000 years of human history, including a circular timber monument resembling the layout of Stonehenge.
Captain Matthew Flinders
Archaeologists working on the HS2 project in Euston have discovered the remains of Captain Matthew Flinders. The Royal Navy explorer led the first circumnavigation of Australia and is credited with giving the country its name.
The discovery of Captain Matthew Flinders
National Temperance Hospital
In 2017, 2 Victorian time capsules buried nearly 140 years ago, to mark the opening of the UK’s first “sober” hospital, were uncovered during the demolition of the derelict National Temperance Hospital in London, next to the site of Euston Station.
Early archaeological works in Hillingdon revealed prehistoric activity in the area. We believe these tools were used by our ancestors who lived in the Mesolithic to the Iron Age, around 8,000 BC to 43 AD.
Exciting sites to keep an eye on
We’ll be exploring over 60 sites of archaeological importance. These are the ones to keep an eye on, we’ll be:
- exploring a prehistoric hunter-gatherer site on the outskirts of London;
- researching an undiscovered multi-period site (Bronze and Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval) in Northamptonshire;
- excavating a Romano-British town in Fleet Marston, Aylesbury;
- uncovering the remains of a medieval manor in Warwickshire;
- finding out more about the Black Death and its impact on medieval villages;
- re-telling the story of a Buckinghamshire village through the careful excavation of a 1,000 year old demolished Anglo-Saxon church and burial ground;
- comparing and contrasting the lives of the buried population in 2 Georgian/Victorian burial grounds in London and Birmingham; and
- discovering a WW2 bombing decoy in Lichfield
The archaeological work will enable us to show that HS2 is more than a railway.
Dignity, care, respect
The careful excavation of the remains of ordinary people and celebrities of their time will give us an unprecedented opportunity to trace our ancestors and tell their stories. We’ll be archaeologically excavating 3 known burial grounds. We’ll be able to look at the lives of people who lived and worked in London and Birmingham during a period of great significance and growth.
In Stoke Mandeville, we’ll be able to tell the story of a village and its population over 1,000 years as they lived through the most prominent historical periods in our history.
Sharing the discoveries
Our discoveries during HS2’s archaeological digs will be shared with communities, re-telling the stories of our past, helping us understand what made us as a country and the people who built the foundations of modern Britain. HS2 will link the past, present and future.
People of all ages and from all over the UK and beyond will be involved in the discoveries in a variety of ways. Expert lectures, community open days, school visits and online channels will allow people to understand their history and see archaeologists at work.
Leaving a lasting legacy for the future
During the archaeological work, HS2 will be calling on the expertise of over a 1,000 archaeologists to help us discover our past. We’ll also be training archaeologists for the future.
Traineeships, apprenticeships and volunteer days will expose people to the cutting-edge technology and modern techniques being used by our team of archaeologists.