Archaeologists uncover haul of artefacts on A1 in Yorkshire

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A huge haul of artefacts dating back to the Middle Stone Age, Iron Age and the Roman era have been uncovered by archaeologists working at the A1 in Yorkshire.

A Roman brooch, made in Eastern Europe, human remains and a miniature sword were among thousands items archaeologists unearthed at the stretch of the A1 between Leeming Bar and Barton, in North Yorkshire.

Experts have been working at the site for two years alongside Highways England, which is carrying out an upgrade scheme to install an extra lane in each direction of the road.

They have uncovered more than 177,000 artefacts and sieved more than 50 tonnes of sediment during their time at the site.

Dr Hannah Russ, from Northern Archaeological Associates, said: “The quality and preservation of the artefacts and environmental remains from this scheme is outstanding.

“We are learning so many new things about the people who were living in the vicinity of the A1 in the past.”

Ceramic pots, thought to be gifts for the dead, were also found alongside human remains at a Roman cemetery in Bainesse.

And a miniature sword with an iron blade, copper alloy scabbard and bone handle was recovered during excavations at Scotch Corner.

The team of archaeologists will leave the site later this month but they will continue to study their findings.

Experts involved in the project have focused on sites along the Great North Road – an ancient road which ran adjacent to the path of the current A1.

Tom Howard, Highways England project manager, said: “It is fascinating to discover that nearly 2,000 years ago the Romans were utilising the A1 route as a major road of strategic importance and using the very latest technological innovations from that period.

“We are doing the same thing today – using the latest technology to improve this important route and significantly reduce journey times.”

Some of the artefacts from the site will go on display in North Yorkshire and at the York Museum Trust.

The A1 Leeming to Barton scheme aims to create a continuous motorway-standard route between London and Newcastle, including the M1 and A1M.

Transport chiefs say it will also improve journey times and increase safety.

When the scheme opens to traffic in 2017, journey times between Leeming and Barton are expected to be reduced by around 20 per cent, and the improvements are predicted to save lives and prevent serious accidents.