Evidence of an early Neolithic settlement and possible cereal cultivation has been revealed in a dig conducted by Archaeological Research Services at Curzon Lodge, Longcliffe, near Brassington in Derbyshire.
The work was undertaken on behalf of Longcliffe, prior to development of the land for the building of the company's new head office, transport depot and workshops. The site lies less than 1km north-west of the distinctive Dolomitic ridge of Harborough rocks (see picture, right), an area of considerable prehistoric activity as well as later lead mining and quarrying.
The archaeological evidence from the site, although limited, is thought to be related to a domestic settlement dating to the early Neolithic period. Artefacts found ranged from prehistoric stone chipped tools and worked flint to sherds of Neolithic pottery. Two hearth-pits were also uncovered during the excavation which gave radiocarbon dates spanning the later centuries of the 4th millennium BC.
The features excavated At Curzon have been interpreted as most likely being the remains of small-scale late 4th millennium BC Neolithic settlement activity, given the small number of features in the area and the limited number of artefacts and environmental remains associated with them.
However, the site had been damaged in the past, and possible structural evidence destroyed, which means that a more widespread settlement could still have been possible. Whether large formal rectangular buildings once existed, as has been evidenced at nearby sites such as Lismore Fields near Buxton, remains unknown, but the wealth of finds from the Longcliffe area suggests that Longcliffe and Brassington formed an important location around which early Neolithic settlement of the 4th millennium BC were clustered.
Articles published by Archaeological Research Services on the link between 'Archaeology and Aggregates' and the excavation at Cuzon Lodge, 'First Farmers at Longcliffe'.