An urn believed to date back around 3500 years has been found on the Roaches nature reserve by a contractor whilst digging a trench to reinforce a popular footpath.
Contractor Kieran Fogarty immediately contacted the Peak District National Park to alert them of his find. A team was then assembled to quickly but carefully carry out an excavation to gain as much archaeological material and information from the site as possible.
“From the type and style of the pot, and its contents, we identified it as a Bronze Age cremation urn and knew we needed to move quickly to conserve the remains,” said Ken Smith cultural heritage manager for the National Park. “The impression of the urn’s side and base was still clearly visible in the edge of the cremation pit. We were also able to identify the edges of the pit that the urn had been placed in in prehistory – within the fill of this pit was a significant amount of cremated bone and charcoal which we were able to recover fully."
The team are now looking for funding for post-excavation work so that specialists can study the urn and its contents. It's hoped that an examination of the cremated bone will give an indication of the age, and even the sex, of the individual.
Once the urn has been investigated it will be deposited with the Potteries Museum at Stoke.
Ken added: “Often finds like this are associated with burial mounds but in this case there was no clue on the ground surface that there was archaeology present. It offers an important reminder that even small scale ground disturbance, such as footpath repair, can have an archaeological impact."
The Roaches is an area of moorland with ridges that are popular with walkers and climbers. The 395 hectare (975 acres) estate in Staffordshire is owned by the Peak District National Park Authority and has been leased to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust since 2013.