ANCIENT secrets have been unearthed in an archaeological dig near Bere Regis.

Youngsters joined with experts for the excavation which uncovered the history that lies beneath rural farmland in Dorset.

Delicate glass leaves, a Roman tea strainer and the remains of sacrificed animals were just some of the finds unearthed by the staff and students as part of the Durotriges Project.

It was led by archaeologists from Bournemouth University and involved local schoolchildren.

The project, otherwise known as The Big Dig, is an archaeological investigation studying the transition from the late Iron Age to the early Roman period in Winterborne Kingston.

The Big Dig is now in its fifth and final year, and this summer’s excavations discovered a prehistoric settlement, Roman villa and two late Roman longhouses, as well as countless finds from the period, including jewellery and pottery.

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Bournemouth University Dr Miles Russell said: “The key thing this year is that much of the evidence is showing what happens after Roman Britain comes to an end.

“We can see how people came to this land, how they cannibalised the villa, ripped everything out of it and made their own life.”

Alongside staff and students from the university, volunteers and schoolchildren visited the site to help out and experience archaeological excavation first hand.

A public open day attracted more than 620 visitors, and around 50 young archaeologists, aged between eight and 16, visited the site from as far afield as Poole, Salisbury, Southampton and Taunton.

The youngsters, who are members of Young Archaeologists’ Clubs across the region, took part in the examination of Roman buildings, geophysical survey and finds processing.

Sarah MacNaughton, of the Poole branch of Young Archaeologists’ Club said: “It was brilliant. The youngsters really enjoyed getting their hands dirty and finding things.”