The Iron Age people of Cambridgeshire had a taste for beer

Evidence of Earliest British Beer Discovered

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THU 7 FEB 2019 03:59 PM

Evidence of Earliest British Beer Discovered:

Evidence of the beer-making process was uncovered by Lara Gonzalez
Evidence of the beer-making process was uncovered by Lara Gonzale

Road workers have excavated what is thought to be the earliest evidence of beer being brewed in Britain, dating back more than 2,000 years.

Experts discovered “tell-tale signs of the Iron Age brew” during work on improvements to the A-14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon .

It is believed the find could date back as far as 400BC.

Archaeobotanist Lara Gonzalez said it was “incredibly exciting to identify remains of this significance”.

Highways England said the find was excavated in fragments of charred residue from the beer-making process.

Ms Gonzalez added: “I knew when I looked at these tiny fragments under the microscope that I had something special.

“The microstructure of these remains had clearly changed through the fermentation process and air bubbles typical of those formed in the boiling and mashing process of brewing.”

She said the fragment’s were similar to bread, but showed “evidence of fermentations and contains larger pieces of cracked grains and bran, but no fine flour”.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead, said: “It is a well-known fact that ancient populations used the beer making process to purify water and create a safe source of hydration.

But this is potentially the earliest physical proofs of that process taking place in the UK.”

A Highways England spokes man said further finds showed “the locals also had a taste for porridge and bread”.

The £1.5bn roadworks have already uncovered the Ice Age remains of a woolly mammoth which could be at least 1,50,000 years old.

‘Incredible discoveries’

It has also unearthed prehistoric henges, Iron Age settlement, Roman kilns, 3 Anglo-Saxon villages and a medieval hamlet.

Dr Sherlock added: “The work we are doing on the A-14 continues to unearth incredible discoveries that are helping to shape our understanding of how life in Cambridgeshire, and beyond, has developed through history.”

The work includes creating a new by pass to the south of Huntingdon and upgrading 21 miles of road.

Road workers discovered the woolly mammoth bones while digging on the A14 near Fenstanton
Road workers discovered the woolly mammoth bones while digging on the A14 near Fenstanton

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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