A Roman trading town with fine pottery and adorned with jewellery has been found half a mile below the surface of a remote field.
A 10-metre wide Roman road, domestic and industrial buildings, more than 300 coins and at least four wells have been unearthed at the site, where 80 archaeologists have been working for the past year.
On the Northamptonshire-Oxfordshire border lies a field on the route of the high speed rail network. It is one of more than 100 archaeological sites that have been examined along the route since the beginning of the year.
Blackgrounds was used for pasture until the archaeological dig began, because of the dense black soil that has helped preserve the Roman remains. James West of Mola Headland Infrastructure said that the soil sealed what was beneath when the land was used for grazing.
The area has been known as an archaeological site since the 18th century, but the findings during the dig surpassed experts' expectations.
West said that this is one of the most impressive sites they have discovered. The Roman road and many high-quality finds have been amazing and tell us a lot about the people who lived here. The site has the potential to change our understanding of the Roman landscape.
The village was formed of more than 30 roundhouses at the time of the Roman invasion. The settlement grew and became prosperous during the Roman occupation.
There were new stone buildings constructed in different areas of the settlement. Archaeologists have found evidence of workshops and kilns, where activities such as metalwork, bread-making and pottery took place.
The main road indicates that the town was a trading hub, with carts coming and going to load and unload goods. This is really impressive because most Roman roads were 4-5 metres wide. The River Cherwell was used as a trading route.
The pottery was found in the area. The photograph is from the HS2/PA.
Hundreds of people would have lived in the town at its height. West said it was a very significant settlement.
The inhabitants adapted to Roman customs, products and building techniques. The number of Roman coins and scale weights discovered shows their growing affluence. The scale weight has an image of a female deity on it. West said that it was pretty as well as functional and suggested a high-status owner.
The Samian pottery that was imported from Gaul has also been pulled out of the black earth. The mineral galena was crushed and mixed with oil for use as makeup.
A set of shackles was found that were thought to be related to criminal activity.
Over the past three years, more than 1,000 archaeologists have worked on the route.
There were statues of a man, woman and child found at an abandoned medieval church on the HS2 route. The lead archaeologist at the site described them as astounding.
More than 50,000 skeletons were exhumed from a burial ground in central London. More than 6,500 skeletons were found in an 18th-century cemetery.
Mike Court, the lead archaeologist for the project, said that they have made some "unprecedented discoveries" as they near the end of their archaeological field work.
The opportunity to carefully examine a site such as Blackgrounds and map out a long history of the site has enabled us to provide a more in-depth understanding of what life was like in rural south Northamptonshire in the iron.