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Shefford in Prehistory

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] details every prehistoric find and site in the county. It is now available on-line as part of the Heritage Gateway website.

The earliest evidence for human activity in what is now Shefford comes from 113 Clifton Road where a Neolithic flint handaxe was discovered [HER 16009]. The next evidence comes from the Bronze Age: two barrows were destroyed during building work in Clifton in 1959 [HER14771]. A human skull was found in one, along with a small animal skeleton, both from near the middle of the mound and both, probably, later as Bronze Age burials tended to be cremations and, indeed, a cremation was found in an urn on the edge of one of the mounds.

It is reported that a coin dating from the Iron Age was found in Shefford in 1879 [HER 382] and two coins from the Iron Age ten years later [HER 383]. One of the latter was a gold coin, the other a bronze coin of King Cunobelin of the Catuvellauni who reigned from about 9 into the early 40s AD. A possible Iron Age hillfort is shown on an Ordnance Survey map of 1960 at Collins Grove [HER 2862]. Another hillfort may have lain south of Beal's Wood where cropmarks show an approximately rectangular enclosure defined by double ditches to north and west though, equally, this could be Romano-British in origin [HER 2681].

A number of sites can be identified from finds or cropmarks and ascribed, tentatively to the prehistoric era, though more accurate dating is lacking:

  • worked flints have been found in Shefford at an unspecified spot [HER 3508];
  • cropmarks show a trapezoidal enclosure south-east of the town with a smaller, curvilinear, enclosure attached and a separate oval enclosure to the south-west. The structures could be prehistoric or Roman [HER 11766];
  • cropmarks north-west of the town show a sub-rectangular enclosure with an enrance to the east [HER 15369].