The Bestwall Quarry Archaeology Project, which began as an excavation by a lone amateur has uncovered more than 7,000 years of history at a 55-hectare quarry to the east of Wareham, Dorset. The excavations have produced evidence of early Mesolithic activity dating back to around 9000 BC, making it the earliest known use of the land. Over the years, various finds have been made, including flint knapping areas, Neolithic flint tools, Bronze Age houses, field boundaries, and crops of barley, wheat, and Celtic beans.
Excavations have also revealed the largest assemblage of Middle Bronze Age pottery in the country, as well as three Middle Bronze Age cremations of a man, woman, and infant, all interred in plain urns. Pottery production continued during the Iron Age, and a settlement area from around 200 BC has been identified. The area was surrounded by enclosure ditches and contained a round house, and large amounts of pottery and a complete quern stone suggested an agricultural-based society.
The project is seen as an example of how amateurs and professionals can work together to produce work of the highest standard. English Heritage allocated money to enable the publication of the results of the excavations, which should add substantially to our knowledge about our distant past.
Among the nationally important finds are rare domestic assemblages of beaker pottery from the Early Bronze Age, a feasting site with ritually placed copper alloy bracelets and ceremonial pottery drinking sets from the Middle Bronze Age, and extensive evidence of pottery production from the Late Bronze Age. In total, over 12,000 pieces of Bronze Age pottery have been discovered, providing a vivid picture of Bronze Age Dorset, previously only visible as burial mounds. Prehistoric farmers living in large, well-constructed round houses grew wheat, tended flocks of sheep, and enjoyed a good lifestyle. They made their own pottery, developed trade networks, spun wool and wove it into cloth, and adorned themselves with attractive, high-class jewellery.
Grid reference SY930877