BRONZE age remains including evidence of cremations have been found at the site of a new secondary school being built in Wichelstowe.

Excavations during the construction of The Deanery CE Academy have revealed evidence of human settlement dating back to around 2500BC.

They include shards of pottery, bones from six cremations and evidence of settlements, such as pits and ditches, from the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

Work started on the school, which will teach around 1,400 students, last August.

The finds are among a number at sites under development around the borough, with many more expected as it expands over the next five to 10 years.

Cllr Gary Sumner, who is chairman of the council’s archaeology advisory committee, has been notified of a range of discoveries in recent months.

He believes there is a growing case for Swindon’s planned new museum and art gallery, which would be built on the site of the Wyvern Theatre car park.

Cllr Sumner said: “As with many of the new developments around Swindon, especially in the New Eastern Villages, there have been some interesting finds recently. Swindon has a really rich past spanning hundreds of years and it’s absolutely crucial the finds are taken back to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery where they can be catalogued and displayed or stored.

“People tend to focus on Swindon Victorian’s era but the finds from Roman and Medieval times and further back show this was a well-populated area long before the Victorians were here. We do need somewhere to show all these things though and while they are doing a great job at the Old Town museum there is limited space and I am in favour of the new museum and art gallery.”

The Wichelstowe discoveries fit with descriptions of life in the later Bronze Age where the dead were cremated and buried near to small farming settlements.

Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger, archaeological advisor to Swindon Borough Council, said: “While the site itself is not spectacular to look at, it is significant because there is very little from that time in the west of Swindon. Much of what we understand from the past in that area is from the Roman and mediaeval periods and this pushes the timeline back to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age periods, when people were living and farming on the land. Excavating these sites gives us a greater understanding of how long people have been living in what is now Swindon.”

Sophie Cummings, curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, said she believed the unearthed items, including pottery fragments, would be delivered in due course.

A school in Warwick made headlines earlier this month when the remains of a Roman villa were found during a relocation project. Wall foundations for a large aisled structure the size of a medieval church were uncovered by archaeologists, who believe it was a large villa estate probably dating back to the 2nd Century AD. Plans are being developed to preserve the remains at the new King’s High School campus, which is moving out of its old town centre site.

The Deanery, run by the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust, will also have no shortage of historical material close to home when it opens in September 2019.