Since the opening of the Rail Port in 1997, DIRFT has grown in size and significance within the logistics sector of UK PLC. The below sets out the significant milestones.
Excavations have taken place within a 178-hectare area of land on the border of Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, with Leicestershire lying just 4 km to the north. It is a watershed region of clay uplands capped with occasional outcrops of glacially-derived sands and gravels.
There were traces of human occupation as far back as the Neolithic period (c 4000 – 2500 BC) in the form of occasional fragments of pottery and flintwork from Covert Farm. Later, in the early Bronze Age, a cremation burial was made in a small pit at Nortoft Lane.
Settlement around the rim of the valley began to be established in the early Iron Age, from about 500 BC, and may have started with a partial enclosure of the valley head by a boundary ditch.
The Iron Age village did not last into the 1st century AD except at The Lodge where a new settlement was established next to the earlier one. It is likely that other farms were founded in the area at this time, but they seem to have avoided earlier settled sites.
The discovery at The Lodge of a sunken-floored building and a pit containing early Anglo-Saxon pottery is the only tangible evidence of Anglo-Saxon settlement in the area.