Bradgate Park Archaeology: Unveiling the Secrets of an Ice Age Treasure Trove

Bradgate Park, nestled in the heart of Leicestershire, England, is a veritable treasure trove for archaeology enthusiasts. This picturesque park has been the site of numerous significant discoveries, shedding light on the lives of hunter-gatherers who inhabited the region during the Ice Age.

Uncovering the Ice Age Artifacts

In 2015, an excavation in Bradgate Park uncovered a remarkable collection of flint artefacts, preserved for nearly 15,000 years. These artefacts, including projectile points, scrapers, knives, and piercers, provide invaluable insights into the daily lives and activities of the park’s prehistoric inhabitants. Archaeologists believe that the site may contain thousands more of these flint tools, offering a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of an Ice Age camp site.

The Creswellian Connection

bradgate park archaeology

Bradgate Park is also home to a late Upper Palaeolithic open site, dating back around 15,000 years. This site has revealed an in situ stone tool assemblage consistent with Creswellian activity, making it one of the few such sites in the UK from this period. This discovery is of national and international significance, as it provides a rare glimpse into the lives of these ancient hunter-gatherers.

Uncovering the Landscape’s History

A LiDAR and subsequent walkover survey of Bradgate Park in 2014 identified over 250 potential archaeological features that were not previously documented. Some of these earthworks appear to be prehistoric in nature, including terracing and a ditched enclosure. These findings suggest that human occupation and interaction with the landscape in Bradgate Park has a much longer history than previously recognized.

The Bradgate Park Fieldschool

Bradgate Park is the site of a major student training and research excavation project, the Bradgate Park Fieldschool. This project has focused on the upland landscape of the park, uncovering a wealth of archaeological treasures. Discoveries include a late Mesolithic flint scatter, a Bronze Age enclosure and round house, a medieval hunting lodge, a 17th-century stable, and an unknown earlier phase of stone buildings beneath Bradgate House.

Protecting the Park’s Riches

Bradgate Park is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its rare geology, ancient parkland, and wet heath habitats. It is also a Country Park and is included on the register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. In 2024, the park was conferred the status of a National Nature Reserve to safeguard its geological and archaeological riches, which include fossils dating back half a billion years.

Visiting Bradgate Park

For those interested in exploring the archaeological wonders of Bradgate Park, the park is open daily from 8:00 am to dusk. Visitors can enjoy the park’s various facilities, including toilets, a visitor center, and picnic areas. Guided tours are available for a fee, and special events are held throughout the year.

In conclusion, Bradgate Park is a true gem for archaeology enthusiasts, offering a unique glimpse into the lives of prehistoric hunter-gatherers and the long history of human interaction with the landscape. With its designation as a National Nature Reserve, the park’s archaeological and geological treasures will be protected for generations to come.

–, 2015, Evidence of Ice Age hunter-gatherers excavated in Bradgate Park.
–, n.d., Bradgate Park Fieldschool.
–, n.d., Unveiling the Archaeology of Bradgate Park PM.
–, 2024, Bradgate Park: National nature reserve status protects ancient rocks.
–, 2019, Archaeological excavations at Bradgate Park uncover the home of Lady Jane Grey.

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