AN unusual piece of Hereford's history has been revealing some of its secrets in an archaeological dig.

Helped by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £10,000 and support from Historic England and local councils, the Bartonsham Row Ditch Community Archaeology Project has been able to investigate the unusual feature which early speculation had dated back to the reign of Henry II.

But the truth now revealed is that it is even older than that.

"Bartonsham Row Ditch is a landscape feature located in meadows behind Park Street, south-east of the Castle Green," explained Ian Broom, the chairman of the Bartonsham History Group.

"A group of local enthusiasts formed a community project and engaged Herefordshire Archaeology to undertake a professionally run excavation, assisted by volunteers from the community.

"Two trenches were dug and soil strata examined for evidence that could date the feature to a particular time.

"The site proved uncommonly difficult to interpret due to having been filled with waste soils from construction at Wiggins Metals in the early 1960s."

However, the project team, led by Tim Hoverd, archaeological projects manager for Herefordshire Archaeology, has reached an unexpected conclusion.

"From the 19th century, the Row Ditch has been attributed to the Scots army that camped on the meadows while besieging the city in 1645, during the English Civil War," said Ian Broom.

"Although alternative theories have since been proposed, such as it being a mediaeval agricultural irrigation /drainage channels, a mill race, or even part of Offa's Dyke, but these have now been dismissed.

"The conclusion is that the ditch is a mostly natural feature dating back some 10 to 12,000 years to the last Ice Age when the River Wye is likely to have been much broader and running in shallow braided channels.

"This was then exploited by the Scots army in the 17th century.

"An interpretation board will be placed on site explaining the feature."