EVIDENCE of an Iron Age settlement has been found at a school near Winchester.

A routine inspection at Kings Worthy Primary School, prior to the start of work on a £1.3m extension project, alerted archaeologists.

Then, during August, evidence of an Iron Age settlement was uncovered. It included the discovery of flint, thought to be used for skinning fish, sheep bones and pottery.

There was also evidence found of ancient track ways, post holes from houses and a grain store.

The discovery was made when the school's playground was being dug up as part of the landscaping for the extension project.

Stash Kozlowski, headteacher at the school, said: "For three weeks there were about six archaeologists busy discovering evidence of a settlement.

"It's like any building work, when you have an extension there's always something! This happens to be a very exciting one and interesting for the children.

"It's delayed the project but it's so exciting and how many schools can boast they are on the site of an Iron Age settlement?

"It's unique and part of the history of the school."

Teresa Hawtin, of Archaeology South East, was at the site when the discovery was made.

Miss Hawtin said: "We didn't find anything for the first two days. It was on the third day that we discovered something. Then things got very busy, very quickly!

"It seems the find was fairly significant. I spoke to the city archaeologist and she said she hadn't seen anything like it."

Miss Hawtin added they were talking to the school about sending them plans, so the children could see what had been found. She added: "It's possible we could give them a little talk but its something we'd have to discuss."

Commenting on the find, David Hopkins, county archaeologist at Hampshire County Council, said: "It gives us a glimpse into the very earliest origins of our present landscape.

"It's an Iron Age settlement, probably a farmstead, encased by a ditch that would have been part defensive and part to define the settlement.

"This particular site fits into a pattern of sites close to the Itchen and Winchester, and this lends support that Winchester was an important centre in the Iron Age."

The school announced in January that it was going to extend the existing school building, so that all the pupils would be taught under one roof.

At present, the school is split between the main building and Hinton House. The latter will be sold off to finance the project.

The archaeological find has put the extension project back by three weeks.

It's now expected to be completed by April 2008.