A fascinating insight into Bronze and Iron Age life in the Arreton Valley is being unearthed.

Fragments collected from Hale Manor Quarry include Iron Age cutting and scraping tools, pieces of iron and bronze age pottery and also more sophisticated pottery from Roman Times — ‘plebware’ as it is termed in archaeological circles.

The discovery of hundreds of artefacts has enabled experts from Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit to chart a legacy of intensive farming through the ages and has also raised the likelihood that the area is also hiding an as-yet undiscovered settlement.

The collection of fragments are being dug up at the quarry, where sand and gravel is being carefully extracted by Wight Building Materials (WBM).

The work is subject to planning conditions, one of which is to work closely with archaeologists to ensure the site’s remaining history is preserved.

Excavation is being done under the watchful eye of the team from Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit.

Each piece is examined, catalogued and will in turn be presented to the Isle of Wight Museum Service.

Isle of Wight County Press: The discovery of hundreds of artefacts at Hale Manor Quarry, Arreton.

Because virtually all the pieces are fragments, they have little or no monetary value nor will they be suitable for display.

However, they are nevertheless helping to paint a picture of life in the Arreton Valley during the bronze and iron ages and also during Roman occupation.

“It is a really productive site and is showing an unusually intense level of agricultural activity, which is very exciting,” said Emma Anderson, from the unit.

“And all these people working the fields – coupled with the fact we have also found daub which was used as a building material – means that there must be a settlement still to be found here somewhere.

"I don’t think it will be a Roman villa or anything like that but it could be quite significant…if and when it is found.”

Emma said she was grateful for WBM’s diligent work.

“The simple fact is that without this sort of controlled excavation we would not be able to piece together the history of this location.

"The historical evidence has slowly been destroyed by time and agricultural activity and this quarrying has allowed us to get in here and find out more.”

Existing records showed the existence of one nearby Bronze Age burial mound – or barrow – but the work has also uncovered several more.

“Most of what we are finding was already broken as it would have been discarded by the early settlers,” said fellow archaeologist Peter Girdwood-Carroll.

“The Romans certainly did get through some pottery — it’s fair to say they weren’t big on re-cycling.”

Steve Burton, WBM general manager, said: “We are really pleased to be playing a role in helping to uncover and understand the Island’s past.

“While the work with Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit has meant excavation and extraction has sometimes been particularly painstaking, it is extremely important to respect the history buried in the ground beneath us."

Jonathan Bacon, IW Council cabinet member responsible for heritage and the environment, said: “This is an excellent example of how diligent planning, a local company eager to do the right thing and expertise from Southampton University are all coming together in the best interest of the Island and its heritage.

"I look forward to seeing what other artefacts are uncovered during this project.”