Recently discovered household waste thrown away by families thousands of years ago will provide valuable clues for archaeologists uncovering the secrets of Devon’s Iron Age, Roman, and Medieval history.

The rubbish, found by experts working on a major archaeological dig in the county, will allow them to reconstruct farming methods thousands of years ago and learn more about what people ate.

Members of the community and experts from the University of Exeter are once again investigating fields near Ipplepen, in south Devon.

The excavations have shown features such as ditches and wells were back filled with domestic rubbish including broken pots, butchered animal bones, metal studs from old shoes, and even a dead badger.

The remains of Amphora, large pottery storage vessels used to transport and store wine and olive oil from the Mediterranean, have also been found. This suggests the community in the area enjoyed foreign food and drink.

The settlement was occupied from the Middle and Late Iron Age – from about 400 BC to AD43 – throughout the Roman period and into the early medieval period.

It was home to a farming community and, in the Roman period, a road was constructed through the settlement that linked it with Exeter.

Professor Stephen Rippon, who is leading the archaeological work, said: “We can use these animal bones to reconstruct past patterns of farming.

“If animals such as the sheep were killed at a young age then they were being kept for their meat – lamb, whereas if they were kept into old age then they were being kept for their wool and even their milk.

“Some of the bones that have been found have cut marks from when they were butchered.”

University of Exeter archaeologists have been excavating different parts of the site during the past seven years with the help of the local community.

In previous years, excavations have uncovered Iron Age roundhouses, a Romano-British settlement and associated field system, Roman road, and an early medieval cemetery.

This year the team are exploring the southern part of the site where traces of a settlement have been found that was occupied during the final years of Britain being part of the Roman Empire.