03/06/03 Unearthing Hidden Treasures


Nine ancient causeways could lie buried beneath centuries of silt near Lincoln, according to archaeologists. Evidence that these wooden walkways linked burial sites and monasteries beside the River Witham at Fiskerton, east of Lincoln, is discussed in a new book.

Time and Tide, produced by Heritage Lincolnshire, features a collection of articles on 20 years of research into the archaeology of the Witham valley.

The book has been edited by archaeologists Steve Catney and David Start – who believe the site where one causeway was found 1981 has many more secrets yet to reveal.

Mr Start, who is director of Heritage Lincolnshire, hopes the publication will attract extra support to find a way of excavating the site.

“Many treasures have been found in the Witham,” said Mr Start.

“They include a great many ornate swords dating from prehistory through to the mediaeval periods, daggers – one with a Lincoln Imp on the hilt – Viking battle axes, Saxon triple pins and the fabulous Witham shield.

“The causeway has helped to unearth dozens of wonderful finds and we believe more could be hidden by other causeways stretching between the Witham Abbeys.

“But aside from digging trenches, we have no other way of finding them. We need to find extra help and more funding to uncover these hidden treasures.”

Lindsey Archaeological Services director Naomi Field led the causeway dig in 1981 and believes the Witham Valley is a site of international significance.

“A local landowner’s son discovered some metal workings by the river in 1980 and we were called in to investigate,” she said.

“We discovered timbers sticking out of the ground, and further investigation revealed the causeway and surrounding it a number of important finds.

“Fiskerton is possibly the most important Iron Age site in Europe, and the only finds on a similar scale are those found in the River Thames.

“We have taken geophysical surveys and aerial photographs of the area which seem to show other causeways, but it seems the only way we will find them is to dig.”

Archaeologists were called to the site in 2000 when the Environment Agency worked on flood defences in the area surrounding the causeway.

The project to preserve the area’s archaeology is now being supported by English Heritage, the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council and local residents.