So, like the hybridized animals, it's likely the woman was part of a ritual or sacrifice, Cheetham said. Furthermore, her body was laid over bones from cows, horses, sheep, pigs and dogs. Curiously, her legs are on top of the animals' rear limbs, while her pelvis covers their pelvises, and so on.
"It's like she was an addition to this hybrid human animal," Cheetham said.
Archaeologists haven't named the Iron Age people who lived at the settlement, but the scientists did name the site "Duropolis," after the tribe, the Durotriges, that lived there from about 50 B.C. to the Roman invasion. The origin of the Durotriges people is unclear, but it's possible they came from mainland Europe, said Cheetham. [History's 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries]
The Durotriges tribe left a trove of artifacts, including pottery, coins and oval-shaped graves that held the tribe's dead, he said. However, it's unclear if the Durotriges merged with the Iron Age people (responsible for the hybridized animal pits), or if they displaced them. It's also possible that with cultural changes and the emergence of new ideas, these Iron Age people started new practices, such as oval burials and pottery, the researchers said.
Given the scant record, archaeologists are trying to learn as much as they can about the Iron Age people. The researchers have studied the region since 2009; they found the site with the hybridized animals just two months ago during a geophysical survey of a ploughed field, Russell said.
"The results, which showed an area of around 30 hectares [74 acres] of pits, roundhouses and ditches, was totally unexpected, no trace of it showing on the surface," Russell said.
So far, they've excavated 16 roundhouses and have about 200 more to uncover, he said. Each roundhouse is between 35 and 50 feet in diameter (11 and 15 meters), and the structures were likely covered with wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs during the Iron Age, Russell said.
The finding gives archaeologists a clearer idea about how Iron Age people in southern England organized their lives, including what they did, ate and stored, he said. It may also help researchers learn about the transition from pre- to post-Roman influence.
The site provides a perfect window into how the Roman invasion affected prehistoric Britain, Russell said. The scientists are planning to track the lifestyle and other changes that occurred after the Romans took over, he said. For instance, the hybridized animal pits date to the Iron Age, before the Romans arrived.
"When did religions, food, customs, houses and society start to change?" Russell said. "And when, if at all, did the native Britons become 'Roman?'"
More from LiveScience:
Image Gallery: Ancient Roman Cemetery Unearthed Photos: Canine Catacomb Was Tribute to Ancient Death God Real or Fake? 8 Bizarre Hybrid Animals Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Article originally appeared on LiveScience.