The owners of the quarry where the remains of a herd of 200,000 year-old mammoths were unearthed have been praised for their co-operation by the paleontologists that made the discovery. 

Neville and Sally Hollingworth hunt for fossils in their spare time and their find of pre-Ice Age steppe mammoth bones and a neanderthal flint axe in a quarry near Swindon was featured in a BBC documentary with Sir David Attenborough. 

Read: Swindon couple unearth five 220,000-year-old ice-age mammoths at site near town

Read: Sir David Attenborough put kettle on for cuppa and chat with stars of BBC mammoth documentary

They said the discovery was only possible thanks to the understanding and teamwork of the quarry owners. 

“I’ve had a working relationship with Hills Group that goes back to 1990,” explained Neville. “They trust me to be professional and honest about what I find.” 

Sally said: “As soon as I found the flint axe and realised this site could be very important I went straight to Hills, who were great at coming up with a plan.”

Group director for quarry products Peter Andrew, said: “We provided substantial resources towards making sure that the area remained accessible during the various phases of excavation.

“Having worked in the Cotswold Waterpark area for many years, we are very familiar with archaeological finds, but this latest discovery has turned out to be quite unique.   

“We have been amazed by the interest in the project and the results of the research, which provides an insight into Britain’s Ice Age environment and the world as it was lived in by our closest human relatives. 

He said: “We are extremely proud of the contribution we have made to bring this great story to life. It was an honour and privilege to host Sir David Attenborough during the filming of the documentary, and we have been amazed at the level of interest from the public in this fantastic story.”

Swindon Advertiser: Some of the amazing fossils found at the siteSome of the amazing fossils found at the site

The bones of mammoths, alongside other animals like bears, moose and hyenas were also found right at the bottom of the quarry. 

Quarry operators  often have to agree as part of their permission, to preserve any archaeological finds they might make when digging up aggregate. But it can come at a cost to the company. 

“The area is currently flooded, but we’ll keep it cordoned off so that further research and digging can be done there,"Peter added.

“Hills’ longer term plan is to create a biodiversity /archaeological information centre to highlight the benefits of quarrying and these keys areas, including the symbiotic relationship between heavy industry, leisure, agriculture, residential and biodiversity as this area and the Cotswold Water Park, are great example of how these can co-exist. 

“It’s more than just digging holes and filling them up again, it touches on many things,” he said. “This is a great example of how we help research the biodiversity of the past, as well as the future.”