Milton Keynes past goes right back to Stone Ages

DIGGING IN History: Cricketers by  Bradwell windmill.

DIGGING IN History: Cricketers by Bradwell windmill.

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Strange but true – if you’re fascinated by the past, the ‘new city’ of Milton Keynes is the place to be.

In archaeological terms, it’s “probably the most thoroughly investigated 80 square kilometres in the whole country”.

That’s according to Nick Crank, senior archaeologist for Milton Keynes Council.

The city’s heritage is all thanks to the far-sighted Milton Keynes Development Corporation, who set up an Archaeology Unit in the early stages of development to ensure traces of the past were not wiped out or buried under new buildings.

The archaeologists’ work has opened a window on to the lives of our ancestors from as far back as the Stone Age. Evidence of thousands of years of human habitation in this area is still there for all to see, particularly in the city’s parks where it’s been protected from development.

Nick is one of dozens of enthusiasts who will be encouraging people to get out and about and explore the history on Heritage Open Days between Thursday, September 11 and Sunday 14.

There are some 50 free events and activities to choose from.

One Heritage Hike led by Nick will be through the Ouzel Valley where, opposite Simpson church, lies a once-thriving medieval community.

It’s possible to trace the remains of a medieval manor house, moated gardens, and a series of ponds.

The earliest definite evidence of humans in this area goes back to the Stone Age. Flint tools, dating from around 12,000 BC, were found in a quarry at Manor Farm, Wolverton.

Later people from the Neolithic, the Iron Age and Roman times have also left their mark on the local landscape.

Archaeologists are continuing to make significant finds within the city, particularly at Stanton Low where a new country park is being created.

Details of these, and all the Heritage Open Day events are at www.mkheritageopendays.com.