"String of Pearls" Unearthed by Chunnel Excavations

A series of rich digs, referred to by archaeologists as "one long string of pearls" was the result of excavations to construct the Chunnel under the English Channel. It took over 15 years to complete the construction of the Chunnel, the train that runs under the English Channel, but in that time, archaeologists were able to work on 12 separate sites along the route.

"One long string of pearls seems to be everyone's favourite description," said Helen Glass, archaeology manager for Rail Link Engineering, who at one stage juggled 12 separate excavations on a short stretch of the line through Kent. Some sites were too shallow to be saved, but their artifacts will soon be available for study on the Internet through York University's website.

Among the finds along the Chunnel route are a Neolithic longhouse, a Roman villa, a medieval moated manor, and a model Victorian farm. Because of the high-speed nature of the rail line, it was difficult to shift the course of the train around archaeological sites, but archeologists were able to save several and protect others from damage by the railroad.

"They did a very good job of getting the line tweaked here and there," said George Lambrick, the director of the British Council for Archaeology.

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