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Braywick Leisure Centre project delayed until 2020 following Anglo-Saxon discoveries

A ‘significant’ archaeological find has pushed back the opening of the planned Braywick Leisure Centre into 2020.

Staff from the Thames Valley Archaeology Service have found the remains of Anglo-Saxon pit-houses and pottery in the ground where it is due to be built.

It means the Braywick Road-based project, which is due to replace the Magnet Leisure Centre in St Cloud Way, has been postponed by three months to accommodate a full archaeological dig at the entire site.

Cllr Samantha Rayner, lead member for culture and communities, said: “The Anglo-Saxon remains found on the Braywick Leisure Centre site are very exciting and will add to the many historic and rare items found across the borough.

 “We will be working with the Thames Valley Archaeology Service to undertake the full excavation and ensure that any historical pieces are found and saved so that residents now and in the future can benefit from them and find out more about how people lived more than 1,000 years ago.

 “However this will unfortunately have a direct impact on the timelines for the opening of the centre.

“While this is disappointing, we will be working with our archaeology and construction partners to ensure that disruption to our plans is kept to a minimum and where possible we will aim to open as close to the original date as possible.”

Thames Valley Archaeology Service carries out digs at project sites to determine if anything important can be found below. The Thames Valley area is rich with historic material.

The Anglo-Saxon pit-houses were buildings that were partly dug into the ground, covered by a roof and common between the 5th and 11th centuries.

Only the shallow pits’ foundations remain at Braywick Park.

The buildings are thought to have been used for storage and are positioned close together, which is unusual for typical Anglo-Saxon settlements, where they would normally be further apart.

The pottery was discovered with the pit-houses, and is consistent with the Anglo-Saxon period.

They were burnished, which would have made them appear glossy, and three fragments show evidence they were used for cooking.

One has soot on its exterior and the others have burnt residue on their interior.

Andy Taylor, senior projects officer from the Thames Valley Archaeology Service, said:

“These Anglo-Saxon remains are very significant. Previously we were not aware of any Anglo-Saxon settlements in the Braywick area so finding the sunken-featured buildings, particularly so close together, and the pottery is very exciting.”


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