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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 20:18 GMT
History unearthed on new motorway
Workers on the BNRR toll motorway
Work on the toll road has uncovered ancient finds
Archaeological remains dating back about 10,000 years have been found by workers building the UK's first pay-as-you-go motorway.

The discovery close to the Belfry golf course in Warwickshire has also revealed evidence of Romano-British settlements and medieval fish farms.

This is not the first time historical remains have been unearthed during the construction of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road, but the latest finds are considered very rare because they span such a huge time period.

The earliest relics come from the Mesolithic period (8,500 - 4,000 BC) but evidence of Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements has also come to light.

'Almost overwhelmed'

Another discovery, at Langley Mill near Sutton Coldfield, is surrounded in mystery - the waterlogged remains of a very large oak post have been uncovered, the purpose of which may never be determined.

Other finds in the area suggest the site is middle to late Bronze Age and even older relics nearby have provided the first evidence of Iron Age settlement in the Birmingham area.

Part of the find on the BNRR
10,000 year old flints have been found

But it is the Belfry site that has caused most excitement among historians, where more than 1,000 pieces of flint were unearthed.

All the finds are currently being studied by Oxford Archaeology.

Chris Jackson, head of community relations for CAMBBA - the company building the road - said: "One of the perceived benefits of the construction of the M6 Toll was the possibility of identifying significant archaeological remains.

"The county curators from Staffordshire, Birmingham and Warwickshire were, however, almost overwhelmed by the extent of the finds on the route of the motorway."

Many of the items will be given to local museums, but Midland Expressway Limited who will operate the motorway, also wants to display some of the artefacts at a service station at Norton Canes.

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