A prehistoric 'war grave' found near beauty spot?

SKELETAL remains of what is thought to be the victim of a prehistoric war have been discovered during an archeological dig in the Peak District.

The three week excavation at the site of an ancient hillfort near Monsal Head, thought to date from the Iron Age (700 BC – AD 60), by Longstone Local History Group (LLHG) was aimed at unearthing how and when the ramparts erected.

But members, who have received 49,000 Heritage Lottery cash for the project, were most surprised by the unearthing of a prehistoric skeleton as they excavated in the rock-cut ditch outside the ramparts.

The adult body, thought to date from the Iron Age, appeared to have been thrown into the ditch with rocks thrown on top of it, possibly as a result of hostilities. Work will go on over the next few months to establish its age, sex and possible region of origin.

The main rampart had been deliberately reduced and much of the stone pushed into the rock cut ditch. During this destruction a human corpse had been unceremoniously thrown in as part of the filling of the ditch with the rampart debris. The skeleton is clearly that of an adult but further analysis will establish more.

Children from Longstone CE Primary School also made the unexpected discovery of hundreds of Mesolithic (10500-3900 BC) chipped stone artefacts such as scrapers for working hides when they helped excavate test pits.

Ann Hall, LLHG Project Manager, said: "The site is on private land with no public access and now we have restored the land, there is nothing left on site to show all the amazing features which have been discovered."

The Peak District National Park Authority gave practical support and advice.

An analysis of the results will be presented at the Derbyshire Archaeology Day at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield on January 16, 2010.