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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 13:05 GMT
Excitement at Neolithic site find
Dr Clive Waddington with some of the pottery found
Archaeologists say it will improve understanding of the Neolithic period
Archaeologists have unearthed what is thought to be one of the largest Neolithic settlements in Britain.

The discovery, which includes buildings, a human burial pit, tools, pottery and ritual objects, was uncovered at a Northumberland quarry.

It is hoped it will boost understanding of the period, which dates back thousands of years.

The discovery was made during routine archaeological investigation of the quarry, which is run by Tarmac.

The settlement, near Milfield Village, Northumberland, includes at least three buildings dating to the 4000 BC Early Neolithic period and three buildings from the 3000 BC Later Neolithic period.

Archaeologists said the find was highly important because remains of buildings are rarely found on Neolithic settlements in England.

The Neolithic settlement
The discovery was made during routine investigations

Dr Jonathan Last, from English Heritage, said: "To find the remains of so many buildings from the Neolithic period grouped together is incredibly important.

"This exciting discovery offers huge potential to improve our understanding of Neolithic ways of life in the north-east of England.

"We hope that analysis and scientific dating of finds from the site will reveal much more about the date and function of these structures and establish whether they were homes or ceremonial buildings."

The remains have been found over an area the size of two football pitches.

Archaeological site director Dr Clive Waddington said: "This is one of the most important sites of its kind to be discovered.

"It provides an exciting opportunity to further understanding of Britain first farmers, their way of life and beliefs about the world."

See archaeologists working on the site

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