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County of Bedfordshire. Attribution: By Nilfanion, CC BY-SA or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
County of Bedfordshire. Attribution: By Nilfanion, CC BY-SA or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Bounded by the chalk hills of the Chilterns, Bedfordshire lies in the basin of the River Great Ouse. This rich land with its good supply of water has attracted settlers since prehistoric times and the county remained predominantly agricultural until the 19th century. Notable archaeological sites include:

  • The Lower Palaeolithic site of Caddington, used as a camp and flint-knapping site between 70,000 and 125,000 years ago
  • Maiden Bower, where an Iron Age plateau fort was built on top of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure. A Roman structure suggests the site continued to be important even after the Roman conquest.
  • Wauluds Bank, a mysterious D-shaped enclosure with bank and external ditch. Finds suggest that it has Neolithic origins but its purpose remains unknown.
  • Five Knolls barrow cemetery, founded in the late Neolithic and still being used for burial by the early Anglo-Saxons. The site was finally used for execution burials in the late early-medieval period.
  • Sharnbrook Roman villa, discovered by staff at the Colworth Science Park, and excavated by Time Team in 2008.
  • Famous early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries include Kempston and Chamberlain’s Barn.
  • Bedford Castle, built in the early 12th century and, nearly destroyed by a massive siege in 1224, was refortified during the Civil War when Bedford sided with Parliament and Oliver Cromwell.

Explore artefacts and coins found in Bedfordshire and recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. There’s even more about Bedfordshire finds and volunteering on our blog.

To get involved, try one of the museums, clubs or societies, or come to a local event. Or contact us to learn more about volunteering for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.


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