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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
First excavation of ancient fort
Badbury Rings
Badbury Rings may have been first inhabited about 3500 BC
The first excavation of a well-known pre-historic monument has shown it to be much older than previously thought.

The archaeological dig at Badbury Rings near Wimborne in Dorset has uncovered evidence that the site was inhabited at least 5,000 years ago.

The excavations, which were prompted by concerns that tree roots on the summit were damaging the site, have found the remains of a Neolithic settlement.

The National Trust dig on the hill fort ends on Friday.

Martin Papworth, National Trust archaeologist for Wessex, said: "To date, it is the only hill fort of this size not to be excavated in the area.

Dig at Badbury Rings
The dig has uncovered Neolithic flints at the site

"We are hoping that this first excavation of Badbury Ring will help us untangle the chronology of this important piece of Dorset's history."

The evidence found so far dates the first occupation of Badbury Rings , which are part of the National Trust's Kingston Lacy Estate, between 3500 and 1500 BC.


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