ONE of the largest and most significant Iron Age discoveries of recent times has been made during a housing development in Pocklington.

The Iron Age settlement, which dates back as far as 800 BC to 00 AD, was discovered on the site of David Wilson Homes' Pavilion Square scheme.

Items found during an archaeological dig include a sword, a shield and 10 spears, along with more than 360 amber and glass beads, brooches and ancient pots.

The discovery, which will be officially announced on BBC Four’s Digging for Britain at 8pm tonight, also includes more than 75 square barrows containing skeletons from the ‘Arras Culture.'

Experts say the site is of national and international significance, as it may shape historians’ understanding of the period.

"A major focus area of the archaeological analysis will concentrate on whether the population is indigenous or migrants from the continent," said a spokeswoman.

"The analytical process will also reveal how those buried at the site died, what stresses the body had been placed in during their life span, whether or not they are related in any way, as well as potential DNA analysis."

Paula Ware, managing director at MAP Archaeological Practice Ltd, which has been working very closely with David Wilson Homes on the site for the past 12 months, said she was hoping the findings would shed light on the ritual of Iron Age burial.

"As we can assume from the shield and sword burials, these were significant members of society, so our understanding of culture and key figures of the time could be really enhanced," she said.

“On the whole, this is a hugely important discovery and is a fine example of what can be revealed and discovered if house developers and archaeologists work hand-in-hand to reveal the nation’s hidden history. We will understand much more once the full analytical process has been completed – but as with any significant finding, this will take time to process."

Peter Morris, development director at David Wilson Homes, said: “These findings are of national significance and could help shape our understanding of the ‘Arras Culture’ and indeed the Iron Age as a whole."