TWO thousand years of history are set to be unearthed as archaeologists get digging at the site of a major housing development in Winchester.

Works have begun at Barton Farm as archaeologists delve into the site’s past ahead of the building of 2,000 private and affordable homes.

Recent surveys indicate part of the land dates back to somewhere between 500BC-250AD. New evidence also suggests the site was also used as a military camp, occupied for a short period in the 1700s by Hessian mercenaries en route to fight for Britain in North America.

The investigations are expected to take up to 16 weeks and will see archaeologists remove layer-upon-layer of soil to extricate historic artefacts.

Any findings will be formally photographed and documented before being donated to the Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Rob Westwood, technical director for CALA Homes Thames, said: “At CALA Homes we have invested a lot in Barton Farm’s future but it is incredibly important to investigate the site’s history too. We have been working with consultants and archaeologists for many years to study the site and we have a great opportunity, before construction work begins later this year, to uncover Barton Farm’s past.

“We already know about some of the site’s former uses, from a prehistoric farmstead to German military camp, but it will be exciting to see this history revealed. All of the evidence will stay in Winchester and will be available for study and to showcase Barton Farm’s past to its new residents.”

Once the investigations are finished, work will start in spring seeing the construction of the first 223 units.

The site, once completed, will also include a primary school, community centre, public open space, sports pitches, children’s play areas, a village green and town square.