A badger in England unearthed a cremation burial near the mysterious Stonehenge archaeological site while digging its den or sett. The Bronze Age objects were found in a burial mount at Netheravon, in Wiltshire – a county in southwest England. They included objects that archaeologists speculate may have belonged to an archer or a fletcher.
Archaeologists found a bronze saw, an archer’s wrist guard, as well as a copper chisel hafted in a bone handle. There were cremated human remains in a pottery vessel found at the site were they had been hidden for 4,000 years.
Senior archaeologist Richard Osgood of Britain’s Ministry of Defence said that the artifacts have been dated to 2200-2000 BC. The objects were found at a burial mound approximately five miles north of Stonehenge on land owned by the MOD. Osgood said it was an exciting find. "It was utterly unexpected. These are wonderful artefacts from the early Bronze Age, about 2,200-2,000 BC," he said.
Bronze chisel and bone handle
Other objects found by the archaeologists were shaft straighteners for straightening out arrows, as well as pottery shards.
The discovery was made by a badger. Badgers are known for digging into burial mounts and ancient structures, sometimes endangering their stability. Osgood said that the badger had dug out the cremation urn and left claw marks on it. Pottery sherds were found lyng on the surface when they were spotted.
Bronze archer's wristguard and arrow straighteners
"There are badger setts in quite a few scheduled monuments,” Osgood said, “the actions of burrowing animals is one of the biggest risks to archaeology in Britain - but to bring out items of this quality from one hole is unusual.”
"We would never have known these objects were in there, so there's a small part of me that is quite pleased the badger did this... but it probably would have been better that these things had stayed within the m As it was digging, it encountered some unusual obstacles–which, being a badger, it dug right through.
Pottery shard unearthed in Wiltshire
It was a local man, Tom Theed, who saw the pile of debris that the badger had dug up from the ground. When he noticed pieces of pottery, he let authorities know.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence offered employment to Injured military personnel and veterans at the site. helped to excavate the site. Artifacts from the site will be put on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes later this year.
Despite the celebrity status of the badger involved with the historic find, badgers are not otherwise popular in the rural areas of England. They have been linked to the spread of deadly tuberculosis in cattle, causing significant losses to stockmen. In Somerset, Gloucestershire, North Devon, and Cornwall farmers are seeking to obtain licenses to kill the striped critters despite opposition from animal rights activists.