ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
Liberty Wing members recently halted construction on base when finding indications of ancient graves and artifacts dating back to 100 B.C. shortly after excavation began.
Originally started May 10, 2021, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron put the project on hold until June 17, 2021, to preserve the integrity of the site and the history it contained.
While digging, archaeologist Michael Green, Cotswold Archaeology, started to notice discolorations and patterns in the dirt, indicating the presence of graves and possibly other archaeological features from the past.
“Archaeology is a finite resource,” said Green. “There’s only so much under the ground, so once it’s destroyed it’s gone forever.”
A team of specialists from Cotswold Archaeology were quickly called in to carefully excavate and identify the found artifacts on location.
Archaeologists are active team members during construction projects on RAF Lakenheath, because of the abundance of history buried beneath the soil. They assist with identifying the presence of something in the earth before it becomes damaged or is destroyed by base-improvement construction projects.
“It’s important that we have archaeologists working with us on projects because they can see what we cannot. If it’s something a machine operator can see it’s likely already been damaged or destroyed,” said Project Manager Matthew Scrivner, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron project manager.
Along with the graves, the archaeologists found artifacts relating to the Roman settlement that were previously excavated from under other roads and buildings in the area. The finds date back to around 100 B.C.-A.D. 100 and included animal bones, pottery, a late Saxon hair pin, and a singular Iron Age coin.
With its budding F-35 program and ever-evolving ACE capabilities, RAF Lakenheath continually looks toward the future, but these artifacts, hidden just beneath the base’s surface, give a fleeting glimpse into the past. The acts of conservation the Liberty Wing has taken will potentially preserve the history the objects represent for generations to come.