FOLLOWING the overwhelming success of the Saxon Princess exhibition a prequel gallery has opened at Kirkleatham Museum showing how people lived in east Cleveland 5,000 years ago.
Excavations in a field at Street House farm, near Loftus, have revealed a Neolithic/Bronze Age timber circle, Bronze Age Burial mounds, an Iron Age settlement, a Roman Villa, and a Saxon graveyard which is the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in North-East England.
To complement the Saxon Princess display next door, a new permanent display educates visitors about life in the area during the earlier Iron Age and exhibits findings made by Dr Steve Sherlock and his team of archaeologists.
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They have uncovered prehistoric ‘rock art’ and evidence of Iron Age industries, including a salt works.
“People wanted to live here because it has fine, well drained soil and it’s beside the sea," he said. "It has resources so they were making salt from it, they had access to fish and oysters, and could drain the land to make crops. We think they made iron but we have not got the evidence for that yet.”
‘Street House before the Saxons’ which showcases discoveries made between 1979 and 2004, displays artefacts from fields in which a Roman villa (AD370) was found next to where people were making jet jewellery and pottery.
Dr Sherlock said that despite revealing the exciting finds, there was still much he wanted to uncover.
“We know where people lived in the Iron Age but we don’t know where they were buried, yet in the Saxon period we know where they were buried but not where they were living. That’s my Holy Grail.”
Admission is free to the new exhibition which tells the story of the dig through photographs, films, and priceless objects as well as giving children the chance to dress up as a Roman.
The Saxon Princess treasures attracted attracted 70,000 visitors in its first year after opening in 2011.
The finds, hailed as "unparalleled" by experts, include a gold pendant as well as glass beads, pottery, iron knives and other objects.
Councillor Olwyn Peters, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, added: “The Saxon Princess exhibition proved to be one of the most important ever seen in this region and we are delighted that, by showcasing more archaeological finds, this incredible story is set to continue.”