Prehistoric butter churn unearthed at Norton Bridge

Dr Tetlow with the bottles found at the site
Dr Tetlow with the bottles found at the site

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of prehistoric settlement, including woodlands and part of a butter churn at a major railway development at Norton Bridge.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of earth have been moved at the site to date, but checks are undertaken by site senior archaeologist Dr Emma Tetlow during ground works.

Dr Tetlow’s specialism is the prehistory of British wetlands and she says she was excited to discover the lid to the butter churn, as well as a cleft oak plank which is being investigated further.

The finds – along with further evidence of worked wooden stakes and wood chips – were made in a section of waterlogged peat close to Meece Road. A number of Victorian stoneware bottles bearing the names of breweries from Bristol to Manchester have also been unearthed and Emma believes they may have been left behind by builders working on a house nearby.

Dr Tetlow said:

“We don’t have firm dates yet, but we’ve taken samples for radiocarbon dating and pollen analysis. Preliminary analysis of the wood indicates working with a metal tool and so we’re looking at a period just after the beginning of the Bronze Age around 2,500 years BC.
The navvies built this line in the 1830s and we may have come very close to a settlement, but so far we haven’t discovered one. However, I’m delighted to uncover a piece of prehistory in Staffordshire and looking forward to discussing it with the local community.”

Local residents will have the chance to view the objects and discuss them with Dr Tetlow and other colleagues working on the site at an information day in the summer.