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Prehistoric and Roman Northfield and Bournville



Ulwine Drive Pit

Construction of the Northfield Relief Road (Sir Herbert Austin Way) revealed remains of Prehistoric and Roman Northfield near Ulwine Drive. The oldest feature discovered was a small pit filled with clay, charcoal and ash. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal showed that the pit dated to about 1600 BC, in the Bronze Age. Although we don know why the pit was dug, it is an important addition to our knowledge of prehistoric Birmingham and demonstrates how many remains survive and are yet to be found. Several Bronze Age burnt mounds have been found near Northfield.


A little further along Ulwine Drive, six pieces of Roman pottery were found, showing that there was a farm nearby in this period. The pottery dates from the 1st to 2nd centuries AD and includes part of a storage jar. Subsequent excavations as part of new development revealed a large pit, four metres wide, dating to the Roman period. The edges of the pit were stepped for access and there was a cobble surface on the step. The pit contained some Roman pottery, and part of a quern stone, used to grind grain to make flour, had been used in the cobble surface. The pit was probably a clay pit that was modified later to use as a watering hole for livestock

Ulwine Drive Excavation

The modern Bristol Road South is on the line of a Roman road that ran to Droitwich. Roman sites have also been found along the Roman road known as Icknield Street in Kings Norton and Metchley Roman fort in Edgbaston was at the junction of these two roads.


A small pit discovered in a trench dug to construct a new sewer pipe near Bournville Lane contained the oldest pottery so far found in Birmingham. There were 28 pieces of decorated pottery called Grooved Ware, from about five different vessels. This type of pottery dates to about 2700 BC, in the late Neolithic period, and the tub or bucket-shaped vessels are covered with the incised decoration from which it is named. It has also been found at well known archaeological sites in other parts of the country, such as Stonehenge and the prehistoric village at Skara Brae in Orkney


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Last Updated : 4th September 2013