THIS WEEK IN 1971: An archaeologist facing the nervous race against time 

Elizabeth Lewis, curator of archaeology at Southsea Castle, at work on the Bronze Age burial urn which was found on Portsdown Hill.
Elizabeth Lewis, curator of archaeology at Southsea Castle, at work on the Bronze Age burial urn which was found on Portsdown Hill.

Every time the earth was torn up to make way for a new motorway, a nerve-wracking race against time began for a Southsea archaeologist.

For Elizabeth Lewis, the curator of archaeology at Southsea Castle, was the ‘road watcher’ for southern Hampshire. 

Her job was to find whatever ancient artefacts existed in the newly torn-up earth  before the motorway was laid down in a matter of months. 

Along the route of the M27 between Portsdown Hill, Fareham, and Bursledon, there was thought to be Saxon or Iron Age remains. 

They were under the earth and no one knew about them. 

‘When the earth is disturbed during preparations for the motorway, we as archaeologists have our only chance to get at these remains and examine them.

‘Soon the motorway will cap the stretch of earth – and our archaeological evidence will then be buried and lost forever’, said Elizabeth.

‘We have only got a small amount of time to extract the archaeological evidence we need and want .’ 

One of her finds from the top of Portsdown Hill was a Bronze Age burial urn, dating from about 1200 BC.