Archaeologists carve out a path for cables under the Mendip Hills

Special event marks completion of excavations

National Grid has completed archaeological excavation works in the Mendips Hills. To mark this milestone the project team hosted a special event for local historians and enthusiasts on Wednesday 29 September 2021.

The evening was well attended with over 50 guests from Banwell Archaeology Society, the local parish councils and other interest groups. It featured presentations from Daniel Connor, Senior Project Archaeologist, and Bob McIntosh from Oxford Archaeology. This was followed by a question and answer session and a chance to get up close to many of the artefacts that were unearthed.

The Mendip Hills area is full of fascinating archaeological remains

Dr Jon Marshall, a retired ecologist who attended the event said, “Please pass on our thanks to all those involved with the archaeology carried out on the Hinkley Connection Project and for holding the event at Banwell Village Hall. The talks were fascinating and to see just a few of the artefacts was a real treat.”

The route of National Grid’s new underground electricity cables passes through a landscape which has been occupied and shaped by humans for over 40,000 years. National Grid knew from earlier studies that the area was likely to contain some important artefacts and remains.

Trial trenching was carefully conducted and detailed assessments were carried out before any construction work began. This pin-pointed some locations along the route which had a high potential of containing archaeological remains. These could not be avoided so specialists were employed to excavate these sites, we also worked alongside local county archaeologists and Historic England.

One site proved to be very promising, and large scale excavations were carried out to understand it in more detail. This led to some important findings which increased our knowledge of Roman life in North Somerset. We also found evidence of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, including small farms containing round houses and grain stores, and a collections of Iron Age pits that contained a collection of burials. You can read more about the site here.

Daniel Connor said, “The Mendip Hills area is full of fascinating archaeological remains, which is why as a project we put the time and resources needed into the archaeological excavation. With our work now complete here, I would hope the post-excavation report will help inform any further archaeology digs completed in the Mendips. We know the importance Somerset had during the Roman period, and from the remains uncovered on this project, any future digs will hopefully uncover fascinating archaeological remains that will help develop the historical narrative of the area”.

Daniel adds, “Our archaeological work also attracted the interest of the national media and will feature on a major TV series later in the year”.

With archaeological works complete, our contractor Balfour Beatty is progressing with installing and jointing the cables across the Mendips, which we expect to complete by summer 2022. During 2023, we will reinstate the land across the area to leave little to no permanent trace of our work.

Public event on archaeological findings

Guest view artefacts at the archaeology event

700 coins have been found

A dagger handle depicting a hound and hare - possibly related to the famous Wint Hill bowl found on previous dig in the area

250,000 pieces of pottery and animal bone were discovered

25 burials were unearthed

Numerous building structures were uncovered