London, August 18 (ANI): Archaeologists have found London's oldest known timber structure, which dating back to 5,700 years, could be the city's earliest "boardwalk".
According to a report by BBC News, the structure was found in an ancient peat bog next to the Belmarsh prison in Plumstead, a suburb of East London near the banks of the River Thames.
"It is definitely man-made, and a very rare find," said team member Jon Sygrave of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.
At the time the timbers were laid down, the Thames was made up of numerous interweaving tributaries and channels, which flowed through a vast marshland.
The structure was most likely built to keep people's feet dry as they ventured across the soggy ground near the river.
"It probably provided access into a resource-rich area full of birdlife and plants and [was] close to the river for fishing," Sygrave said.
The newfound platform is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) by 6.5 feet (2 meters). It was made from split alder or hazel logs that were each about four inches (ten centimeters) wide.
The wood beams were found 15 feet (4.7 meters) underground near the remains of a now dry river channel, according to the team.
But, it's not clear how far people might have traveled to reach this boardwalk, the excavation team said, since no prehistoric settlements have been found nearby.
Further analysis of the structure as well as ancient preserved plant material found around it should help clarify the trackway's purpose.
Archaeologists found the structure during excavations carried out before construction of a new prison building.
The structure may extend farther into the ancient bog, but the complexity of the excavation meant it would take too much time and money to investigate further.
Instead, any additional timbers will remain buried, and the excavated area will be preserved under special glass flooring in the new building. (ANI)