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Uncovering Wellwick Farm

Wellwick Farm, Buckinghamshire

"We've discovered a site showing human activity spanning 4,000 years."

A wealth of archaeology finds have been revealed by HS2 archaeological work at Wellwick Farm, near Wendover on the HS2 line of route.

What we learned

Evolving landscape Archaeologists have revealed evidence of a fascinating evolution of the significance of the location for people living in this area over time; from ceremonial in the prehistoric period, through to domestic and agricultural from the Iron Age onwards.

Timber monument A circular monument of wooden posts 65 metres in diameter, similar to Stonehenge, suggest the land was used for ceremonial activity.

Drone shot of Wellwick Farm archaeology site.

The prior phases of work here had hinted to the richness of the archaeology present, but the evolution of the changing use of this site over time is striking when considered in conjunction with the ceremonial structure, the mysterious murder victim and the Romano British lead lined coffin burial.

Circular timber monument

The archaeological works have revealed a wealth of archaeology with evidence of human activity dating from the Neolithic to the Medieval period, a time spanning around 4,000 years. The land to the west of Wendover seems to have been persistently used for ceremonial activity as archaeologists also uncovered a large circular monument of wooden posts 65 metres in diameter with features aligned with the Winter Solstice, similar to Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

Iron Age murder victim

During the excavation work at Wellwick Farm near Wendover, archaeologists discovered a skeleton of an adult male buried face down in a ditch with hands bound together under his pelvis. The unusual burial position suggests the Iron Age man may have been a victim of a murder or execution. Osteologists are currently examining the skeleton for further evidence of foul play. Dr. Rachel Wood, Project Archaeologist said:

The death of the Wellwick Farm man remains a mystery to us but there aren’t many ways you end up in a bottom of a ditch, face down, with your hands bound. We hope our osteologists will be able to shed more light on this potentially gruesome death.

A place for the living and the dead

At Wellwick Farm, archaeologists believe the Bronze Age and Iron Age saw the addition of some domestic occupation with at least one roundhouse identified and possible structures such as animal pens and pits used for disposing food. During the Roman period, this occupation may have moved to the current location of Wendover but the Wellwick Farm site was still used for burials. In a square enclosure on the site, archaeologists discovered a skeleton in a coffin that was lined with lead, with the outer coffin likely made of wood. Archaeologists believe that the buried individual must have been someone of high status as they had the means to pay for such an expensive method of burial.