October 19th, 2007, 06:38 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Relics unearthed at retail site
Do any of you Brits live in this area? Plans for a multi-million pound retail development have revealed a rare slice of County Durham's history. Work on a massive distribution centre for high street giant Argos is due to begin in September. The project will bring 700 jobs to Darlington, which has been hit hard recently by manufacturing job losses. Now archaeologists are moving in after a surprise discovery of what experts say are previously unknown Roman and Iron Age relics. Archaeologists have just a few weeks to unearth what they can from the site at Whessoe, before the remains , believed to date from as far back as 200BC, are buried again forever. The settlement is thought to link the Iron Age with Roman occupation and is described as "very significant". But experts acknowledge that they are not important enough to prevent work on the new distribution centre. Robin Taylor-Wilson, of Pre-Construct Archaeology, is in charge of the archaeological operation. He said: "It is an extremely significant site and very rare in this part of County Durham. "It looks like it could be a civilian settlement attached to a military installation." The director of development at Darlington Borough Council, John Buxton, said: "We are working with contractors and the archaeologists to get a big team in as quickly as possible. "The site is significant in determining the history of Darlington, but the finds that are there are not such that they would be monuments that should be protected. "The Argos development is particularly important and crucial to Darlington, so we have to make sure that is delivered." Mr Taylor-Wilson agreed, saying: "It is not always possible to preserve things as they are and we accept that. "The next best option is preservation by record." Some of the more important items finds are due to put on show in the new Argos complex.