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Wardell Armstrong Archaeology finds Iron Age Ladder

Posted on 20/02/2013 by Dave Basnett There have been 0 comments

The excavation of a massive circular pit, measuring approximately 7m diameter and 2.5m deep, contained two perfectly preserved Iron Age notched log ladders. The timbers each of which measures around 2.5m in length have been well preserved in the base of the pit which was heavily waterlogged.

The waterlogged environment provided the perfect anaerobic (oxygen free) conditions for the preservation of the ladders and of other organic remains.Very few examples of notched log ladders have ever been found in Britain, one example is on display in the British Museum in London, and it appears on current evidence that the two examples at Milton Keynes may be the largest yet found in the country.

They are being carefully lifted from the pit and will be transported to the York Archaeological Trust who specialise in the conservation of timbers of this size. Conservation of the ladders will take around 18 months to complete after which date they will be put on display in a designated museum.


The function of the ladders in this case appears to have been to provide access to the base of the pit where extraction of clay was being undertaken.

The timbers could date to between 800BC to 100AD but dendrochronology will be used by the York Archaeological Trust to provide a more accurate date.

In another part of the development site Wardell Armstrong Archaeology has also uncovered an early Saxon burial ground where the burials were all accompanied by iron knives. Again this is a very significant archaeological find.

These unexpected discoveries obviously have cost implications for the client, in particular the cost of conserving the log ladders, but Wardell Armstrong Archaeology has worked to try and minimise costs and the client is happy with the way in which the discoveries have been dealt with on their behalf.The lesson to be learnt from this about archaeology- EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

This post was posted in Other News