Iron Age gaming pieces that were found (dice at the top & ‘dominoes’/counters either side)
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have uncovered one of the biggest groups of Iron Age metal artefacts to be found in the region- in addition to finding dice and gaming pieces.
A dig at a prehistoric monument, an Iron Age hillfort at Burrough Hill, near Melton Mowbray, has given archaeologists a remarkable insight into the people who lived there over 2000 years ago.
Both staff and students from the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History and University of Leicester Archaeological Services are involved in the project, now in its fourth year.
About 100 pieces, including iron spearheads, knives, brooches and a reaping hook, as well as decorative bronze fittings from buckets and trim from an Iron Age shield, have been found.
Project Director John Thomas said: “To date the three excavation seasons have produced a wide array of finds that have transformed our understanding of how the hillfort was used, the length of occupation and the contacts that its occupants had with other regions. The last excavations focussed on a series of large storage pits that had become filled in with domestic refuse and produced a significant collection of objects including one of the largest groups of Iron Age metalwork from the East Midlands.
“All of the artefacts provide a remarkable insight into the lives of people who lived at Burrough Hill during the Iron Age. Further finds shed light on their social lives; a bone dice and gaming pieces were discovered alongside a polished bone flute and beautifully decorated blue glass bead from a necklace. These finds contrast sharply with artefacts found on other contemporary sites such as small farmsteads, suggesting differences in status and access to a wider range of material culture.
“The results of the project so far have been very impressive and tell us a lot about the history of Burrough Hill and its changing story over time. Not only that, but these results will enable comparison with other contemporary settlements and feed into a broader frame of research into the Iron Age occupation of Leicestershire and the East Midlands.”
The five-year Burrough Hill Project brought to light a huge amount of new evidence to enable a better understanding of the site which until recently had not seen extensive excavation due to its protected status as a Scheduled Monument.
Mr Thomas added: “This year we will be excavating further areas of the hillfort interior to increase understanding of how the hillfort was used. A Public Open Day will be held on Sunday 30 June between 11am – 4pm.”