Unearthing secret of Fylde's iron age

THE Fylde coast's very own "Atlantis" has come a step closer to revealing its secrets.

An iron age settlement was discovered by members of the Wyre Archaeology Group last year at Bourne Hill, close to the border between Fleetwood and Thornton.

And a geophysical survey just conducted on the site is likely to be the springboard for a fresh dig next spring.

When the group explored in 2007 they found iron age roundhouses, a rectangular embankment which may have been fortified, an ancient cobbled trackway and defensive embankments.

They have just borrowed sophisticated equipment from Lancaster University which has enabled them to conduct a survey in which radio waves are used to pinpoint underground features.

The results will be known very soon.

Wyre Archaeology secretary, Ken Emery, said: "The digging season is out until probably spring next year. It largely depends on what we see from the geophysical examination of the hill.

"We did four areas 20 metres square. It will give us a better idea where to dig."

When the settlement was first unearthed there was speculation from group member Brian Hughes that it could even be Portus Setantiorum, a lost Roman port which has always been the subject of fierce debate over its whereabouts. Bourne Hill is sufficiently close to the River Wyre to have been a berthing point in ancient times.

Mr Hughes said: "When we did our dig we came across huge patches of thick rubble which were above the round houses.

"I have a suspicion the survey won't be able to find the round houses because they are hidden under the rubble.

"But I know these things are there. It doesn't put me off in any way."

The group would not have the resources to excavate the whole site.

Mr Hughes added: "The first thing would be to re-open the roundhouses."

If the group's findings are significant enough, the site could be protected by being declared an ancient monument.

The search for Portus Setantiorum was sparked by the writings of Greek cartographer Ptolomy.

He pinpointed Morecambe and the River Ribble, but the mystery port in between has never been accurately located.