Archaeologists working at a regional surface mine have uncovered an Iron Age settlement.
Excavations carried out by Headland Archaeology at the Brenkley Lane Surface Mine, which is to the north of Newcastle, have revealed a sprawling Iron Age settlement across a five-hectare area which is centred on four roundhouses within a double rectangular enclosure.
The two month-long dig has revealed a complex series of archaeological features spread across the site, with the remains being grouped into three main phases of activity.
The majority of the remains uncovered relate to an extensive period of occupation during the Iron Age, and date back well over 2,000 years.
They consist of a series of large rectangular ditches enclosing several concentrations of ring gullies, which are the foundation trenches of the settlement's buildings.
Pits and other linear features, such as boundary and enclosure ditches, have also been uncovered, with the central enclosed area containing closely aligned ring gullies that suggested buildings had been rebuilt several times.
The artefacts, which include iron age quernstones for processing grain, a spindle whorl for weaving, 'briquetage' ceramic vessels that were used in salt transportation and bronze age pottery, suggest that a mixture of domestic and food-processing activities were carried out in the area, with further similar features to the west of the site thought likely to relate to the management of livestock.