Archaeologists unearth ancient origins of New Forest town

buckland rings

Published Monday 17 July 2017

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of homes that housed some of the earliest inhabitants of a New Forest town.

A high-tech survey at Buckland Rings Iron Age hillfort in Lymington has revealed evidence of 2,000 year old roundhouses within the fort’s ramparts.

The geophysical survey was led by the New Forest National Park Authority with local volunteers and students from Bournemouth University.

Up to seven pre-historic dwellings were identified, which would have once housed a community of hunters and farmers that would grow into the modern Lymington. Trading throughout Britain and across the sea, these ancient ancestors would have lived in round wooden buildings caked in a soil-based mixture.

Archaeologists also discovered medieval field systems, helping them chart the evolution of the Buckland Rings community from prehistoric hamlet to modern day Lymington.

The team surveyed an area of 4.3 hectares, around six football pitches, to identify variations in the earth’s soil that show ancient human activity (below). These variations can be caused by the digging of ditches and pits as well as the burning of materials.

Buckland Rings geophysics

Lawrence Shaw, Archaeological Officer (project and data) for the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Buckland Rings is a fantastically well preserved hillfort that would have once towered over Lymington and even been visible from the sea.

‘This project has allowed us to look back at the origins of this historic town and see how people were living thousands of years ago. We hope to continue with our research to uncover more details of early Lymington and help the local community to find out more about this fascinating site.’

The work was undertaken as part of a work placement project by Bournemouth University archaeology student, Josie Hagan, who said: ‘This survey was a great success and we had a lot of fun over the six days. The volunteers and students worked extremely hard to get a lot of ground covered, and this looks great in the results. It makes it all worthwhile when you get to piece the results together and see features that haven’t been discovered before.’

Buckland Rings is a Scheduled Ancient Monument owned and managed by Hampshire County Council that is open for the public to explore. Visitors are encouraged to respect this special site by clearing up after their dog and not undertaking metal detecting.

Buckland rings artists impression aerial

The geophysics survey expanded on archaeological work at Buckland Rings in 2016, funded by Scottish and Southern Energy.

Find out more about the New Forest’s past at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/history

Notes to photo editor

The mapped results of the geophysics survey of Buckland Rings are attached.

Further images including artist’s impressions, survey results and volunteers surveying are available to download from http://ow.ly/DFOm30dGrmQ

Notes to editor

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper


The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.
The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media contact

Matt Stroud, Communications Officer
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: matt.stroud@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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