THREE entire buildings, cooking pots, iron knives and sets of keys were discovered under a police station.

Fragments of glazed drinking jugs also revealed the hidden lives of those who lived in the area of Wallingford Police Station over the past 1,000 years.

The 'very exciting' finds included a host of surprises for the team from Oxford Archaeology.

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They were digging the land up ahead of a new housing development by Winslade Investments of Streatley.

Managing director Tim Coleman said: “I am delighted that we have been able to reveal this extensive archaeology and help increase the town’s understanding of everyday life so long ago.”

The area around the Reading Road site was occupied between 1000 and 1200AD, towards the end of the Saxon period and the first 125 years after the Norman conquest in 1066.

Buildings and other traces of activity of the period have been found in the centre of Wallingford before, but these are the first large-scale results to be found south of the Saxon town, according to Winslade Homes.

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Alongside the three whole buildings, the archaeologists found ditches and groups of large, deep pits containing animal bones, pottery and other finds.

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Domestic items found included cooking pots with traces of burning from cooking, shallow bowls or pans used for dairy products and , as well as iron knives and keys. Animal and fish bones were numerous, indicating a varied diet, and included the jaw of a huge freshwater chub.

The animal bones from several of the pits include many horn cores left over from bone working from which many objects were fashioned before the advent of plastic.

Unusually, many of the horns come from goats rather than cattle, so there must have been herds of goats in Wallingford at the time.

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Part of a pair of shears may have been used to clip wool, and two chalk spindle whorls were found from the making of wool into thread. Some of the pots were stained with purple madder, a plant used to dye wool red or purple, and a polished bone, pointed at both ends, was a thread-picker used to keep the threads apart in weaving.

All these signs indicate professional textile manufacture on the site, the finished products perhaps sold from a shop on the road frontage just outside the town.

The layout suggest that the site was organized, and perhaps divided up into plots, experts said.

The investigation also exposed the foundations from The Cottage Hospital, also known as Morrell Memorial Hospital, built in 1881, which pre-dated the station.