‘ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRIUMPH’ WHICH UNCOVERED STRANGE CLUES ABOUT ANCIENT CULT
Swords used by an ancient cult who lived on a network of causeways near Lincoln are detailed in a new book.
Author Naomi Field’s work, about archaeological discoveries at Fiskerton, near Lincoln, was launched in the city yesterday.
Her book provides a record of strange artefacts uncovered during archaeological excavations of the area near the River Witham east of Lincoln in 1981.
Weapons, armour, religious offerings, carved-out canoes, pots and tools have been found at the site near the causeways themselves which were made from oak and alder branches.
One of the country’s leading ancient history specialists, Dr Jeffrey May, was in Lincoln for the launch of city archaeologist Ms Field’s book.
Dr May, former chairman of the North Lincolnshire archaeological unit which commissioned the Fiskerton dig 23 years ago, made the trip from his Nottingham home to honour Ms Field.
Jointly written by Ms Field and Dr Mike Parker Pearson from the University of Sheffield, the book explains why the Fiskerton finds were of international importance.
It was unveiled – along with a display of many of the artefacts unearthed during the excavations – at the Lincolnshire Archives office, in St Rumbold Street.
Many of the six Iron Age swords, 11 spearheads, pottery, metal and woodworking tools will be on public display in the new £9 million City and County Museum being built in Flaxengate.
Now retired and living in Nottingham, Dr May is an Iron Age specialist who realised the importance of the Fiskerton site when the first treasures were found.
“This is, without doubt, one of the greatest triumphs of British archaeology,” he said.
“It was the first religious cult site to be discovered in this country and the first to be properly excavated.
“Now, more than 20 years later, we have the detailed publication which is in itself a magnificent achievement and a tremendous credit to Naomi Field.
“I went to see the excavations myself in 1981 and they were truly extraordinary. It was a marvellous piece of fieldwork of European importance.”
Ms Field, now a partner in the private Lindsey Archaeological Services practice in West Parade, Lincoln, recalled how she was the first professional on the site 24 years ago.
“I was working for the unit, which is now defunct, when it was notified in December 1980 that an Iron Age sword had been found on farmland close to the River Witham at Fiskerton,” she said. “There were timbers sticking out of the ground which were found to be around two metres apart, in the form of a causeway.
“We excavated the site and discovered many items which had obviously been deliberately left as gifts to ensure the future of the causeway. We call them votive offerings.”
Co-author Mr Pearson is a reader in the University of Sheffield’s archaeology department.
“Fiskerton remains the pre-eminent Iron Age river offering site in Britain,” he said.
Fiskerton: An Iron Age Causeway with Iron Age and Roman Votive Offerings is published by Oxbow Books. It has 242 pages, 136 illustrations and 16 colour plates.
It is available at Lincoln’s Jews Court Bookshop and Ottakar’s, priced £35.
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