Pattern and process Landscape prehistories from Whittlesey Brick Pits: the King’s Dyke & Bradley Fen excavations 1998–2004
Mark Knight and Matt Brudenell
Hardback | £45.00 / US$57.00 | ISBN-978-1-902937-93-9 | xxi + 418 pp. | 217 figs | 110 tables | 2020 | Buy now | Download (free)
eBook | ISBN-978-1-902937-97-7 | xxi + 418 pp. | 217 figs | 110 tables | 2020 | Download
The King’s Dyke and Bradley Fen excavations occurred within the brick pits of the Fenland town of Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. The investigations straddled the south-eastern contours of the Flag Fen Basin, a small peat-filled embayment located between Peterborough and the western limits of Whittlesey ‘island’. Renowned principally for its Bronze Age discoveries at sites such as Fengate and Flag Fen, the Flag Fen Basin also marked the point where the prehistoric River Nene debouched into the greater Fenland Basin.
A henge, two round barrows, an early fieldsystem, metalwork deposition and patterns of sustained settlement along with metalworking evidence helped produce a plan similar in its configuration to that revealed at Fengate. In addition, unambiguous evidence of earlier second millennium BC settlement was identified together with large watering holes and the first burnt stone mounds to be found along Fenland’s western edge.
Genuine settlement structures included three of Early Bronze Age date, one Late Bronze Age, ten Early Iron Age and three Middle Iron Age. Later Bronze Age metalwork, including single spears and a weapon hoard, was deposited in indirect association with the earlier land divisions and consistently within ground that was becoming increasingly wet.
The large-scale exposure of the base of the Flag Fen Basin at Bradley Fen revealed a beneath-the-peat or pre-basin landscape related to the buried floodplain of an early River Nene. Above all, the revelation of sub-fen occupation means we can now situate the Flag Fen Basin in time as well as space.
Hinterlands and Inlands: The Archaeology of West Cambridge and Roman Cambridge Revisited
Christopher Evans and Gavin Lucas
Hardback | £45.00 / US$57.00 | ISBN-978-1-902937-89-2 | xix + 528 pp. | 286 figs | 104 tables | 2020 | Buy now
eBook | 978-1-902937-96-0 | xix + 528 pp. | 286 figs | 104 tables | 2020 | Download available soon
Thinking Hinterlands – Spanning 25 years of fieldwork across a 3 sq. km swathe on the west side of Cambridge, this and its companion volume present the results of 15 sites, including seven cemeteries. The main focus is on the area’s prehistoric ‘inland’ colonization (particularly its Middle Bronze Age horizon) and the dynamics of its Roman hinterland settlements. The latter involves a variety of farmsteads, a major roadside centre and a villa-estate complex, and the excavation programme represents one of the most comprehensive studies of the Roman countryside anywhere within the lands of its former empire. Appropriately, this book also includes a review of Roman Cambridge, appraising its status as a town.
With such a body of amassed data to draw upon, comparative statistical analyses are employed throughout, alongside an array of scientific studies that include ancient DNA. Both books also have a historiographic dimension relating to the landscape’s specific suburban situation and its latter-day colonization by the University. Earlier excavations by Jenkinson at Girton College and Marr’s Traveller’s Rest Pit investigations are reviewed, with the ‘archaeology’ of the Darwin Family Estate and the Newall Telescope also featured.
The collective results are groundbreaking. This was a densely packed landscape, and the scale and coherence of the cumulative excavation programme provides significant insights concerning prehistoric and Roman-period settlement densities. What their proximity implies for economic and social practices, and the area’s long-term land-use succession – the comings and goings of communities and ‘history’ – are explored in depth.
Medieval to modern suburban material culture and sequence at Grand Arcade, Cambridge
Craig Cessford and Alison Dickens
Hardback | £45 /US$60.00 | ISBN-978-1-902937-78-6| xxi + 474pp. | 260 figs | 56 tables | 2019 | Buy now | Download (free)
eBook | 978-1-902937-95-3 | xxi + 474pp. | 260 figs | 56 tables | 2019| Download
This is the first volume describing the results of the CAUs excavations in Cambridge and it is also the first monograph ever published on the archaeology of the town. At 1.5 hectares the Grand Arcade investigations represent the largest archaeological excavation ever undertaken in Cambridge, significantly enhanced by detailed standing building recording and documentary research. It includes one of the most comprehensive studies of the suburb of a British town, with fourteen investigated plots of the mid/late eleventh to twentieth centuries, and the most detailed investigation of a British town ditch ever undertaken, spanning the early/mid-twelfth to eighteenth centuries. Major artefactual assemblages of many material types were recovered, with extensive waterlogged preservation of wood and leather plus environmental sampling, including pollen and insects. The volume treats the copious eighteenth–twentieth-century material culture in a manner unparalleled in a British context, including a considerable number of college related items that attest to the town’s distinctive role as a university centre.
This is an important book, and the scale of the investigations and the richness of the archaeology make it a major contribution to studies of British town suburbs and boundaries in particular and urban archaeology more generally. The ground-breaking commitment to the archaeology of the eighteenth–twentieth-centuries is particularly important, as Cambridge was one of the key intellectual hubs of the foremost global power for much of the period.
Riversides: Neolithic barrows, a Beaker grave, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon burials and settlement at Trumpington, Cambridge
Christopher Evans, Ricky Patten and Sam Lucy
Hardback | £45 /US$60.00 | ISBN-978-1-902937-84-7| xviii + 484 pp. | 241 figs | 118 tables | 2018 | Buy now
The 2010–11 excavations along Trumpington’s riverside proved extraordinary on a number of accounts. Particularly for its ‘dead’, as it included Neolithic barrows (one with a mass interment), a double Beaker grave and an Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery, with a rich bed-burial interment in the latter accompanied by a rare gold cross. Associated settlement remains were recovered with each. Most significant was the site’s Early Iron Age occupation. This yielded enormous artifact assemblages and was intensively sampled for economic data, and the depositional dynamics of its pit clusters are interrogated in depth.
Not only does the volume provide a summary of the development of the now widely investigated greater Trumpington/ Addenbrooke’s landscape – including its major Middle Bronze Age settlements and an important Late Iron Age complex – but overviews recent fieldwork results from South Cambridgeshire. Aside from historiographical-themed Inset sections, (plus an account of the War Ditches’ Anglo-Saxon cemetery and Grantchester’s settlement of that period), there are detailed scientific analyses (e.g. DNA, isotopic and wear studies of its utilized human bone) and more than 30 radiocarbon dates were achieved.
The concluding chapter critically addresses issues of local continuity and de facto notions of ‘settlement evolution’.
Twice-crossed river: prehistoric and palaeoenvironmental investigations at Barleycroft Farm/Over Cambridgeshire
Christopher Evans with Jonathan Tabor and Marc Vander Linden
Hardback | £40 /US$58.00 | ISBN-978-1-902937-75-5 | xxiii+639 pp. | 301 figs | 178 tables | 2016 | Buy now
This is the first volume charting the CAU’s on-going Barleycroft Farm/Over investigations, which now encompasses almost twenty years of fieldwork across both banks of the River Great Ouse at its junction with the Fen. Amongst the project’s main directives is the status of a major river in prehistory – when a communication corridor and when a divide? Accordingly, a key component throughout has been the documentation of the lower Ouse’s complex palaeoenvironmental history, and a delta-like wet landscape dotted with mid-stream islands has been mapped. This book is specifically concerned with the length of The Over Narrows, whose naming alludes to an extraordinary series of mid-channel ‘river race’ ridges. With their excavation generating vast artefact sets and unique palaeo-economic data, these ridges saw intense settlement sequences, ranging from Mesolithic camps, Grooved Ware, Beaker and Collared Urn pit clusters (plus field plots) to Middle Bronze fieldsystems and their attendant settlements, a massive Late Bronze Age midden complex and, finally, an Iron Age shrine. The latter involved extensive human bone or body-part deposition and bird sacrifice. Four upstanding turf barrows and two accompanying waterlogged pond barrows feature among the main excavations reported here. With more than 40 cremations (including in situ pyres), the resultant detailing of Early Bronze Age mortuary practices and the insights into the period’s monument construction are ground-breaking. This is an important book, for the scale of The Narrows’ excavations and palaeoenvironmental studies, its comprehensive dating programmes and, particularly, the innovative methodologies and analyses undertaken. Indeed, a commitment to experiment has lain at the project’s core
Romano-British Settlement and Cemeteries at Mucking: Excavations by Margaret and Tom Jones, 1965–1978
Sam Lucy and Christopher Evans
Hardback | £40 | ISBN 9781785702686 | pp.456 | 2016 | Buy now
Excavations at Mucking, Essex, between 1965 and 1978, revealed extensive evidence for a multi-phase rural Romano-British settlement, perhaps an estate centre, and five associated cemetery areas (170 burials) with different burial areas reserved for different groups within the settlement. The settlement demonstrated clear continuity from the preceding Iron Age occupation with unbroken sequences of artefacts and enclosures through the first century AD, followed by rapid and extensive remodelling, which included the laying out a Central Enclosure and an organised water supply with wells, accompanied by the start of large-scale pottery production. After the mid-second century AD the Central Enclosure was largely abandoned and settlement shifted its focus more to the Southern Enclosure system with a gradual decline though the 3rd and 4th centuries although continued burial, pottery and artefactual deposition indicate that a form of settlement continued, possibly with some low-level pottery production. Some of the latest Roman pottery was strongly associated with the earliest Anglo-Saxon style pottery suggesting the existence of a terminal Roman settlement phase that essentially involved an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ community. Given recent revisions of the chronology for the early Anglo-Saxon period, this casts an intriguing light on the transition, with radical implications for understandings of this period. Each of the cemetery areas was in use for a considerable length of time. Taken as a whole, Mucking was very much a componented place/complex; it was its respective parts that fostered its many cemeteries, whose diverse rites reflect the variability and roles of the settlement’s evidently varied inhabitants.
Lives in the Land – Mucking Excavations
Christopher Evans, Grahame Appleby and Sam Lucy
Hardback | £40 | ISBN 9781785701481| pp. 640 | 2015 | Buy now
The excavations led by Margaret and Tom Jones on the Thames gravel terraces at Mucking, Essex, undertaken between 1965 and 1978 are legendary. The largest area excavation ever undertaken in the British Isles, involving around 5000 participants, recorded around 44,000 archaeological features dating from the Beaker to Anglo-Saxon periods and recovered something in the region of 1.7 million finds of Mesolithic to post-medieval date. While various publications have emerged over the intervening years, the death of both directors, insufficient funding, many organisational complications and the sheer volume of material evidence have severely delayed full publication of this extraordinary palimpsest landscape.
Lives in Land is the first of two major volumes which bring together all the evidence from Mucking, presenting both the detail of many important structures and assemblages and a comprehensive synthesis of landscape development through the ages: settlement histories, changing land-use, death and burial, industry and craft activities. The long time-gap since completion of the excavations has allowed the authors the unprecedented opportunity to stand back from the density of site data and place the vast sum of Mucking evidence in the wider context of the archaeology of southern England throughout the major periods of occupation and activity.
Lives in Land begins with a thorough evaluation of the methods, philosophy and archival status of the Mucking project against the organisational and funding background of its time, and discusses its fascinating and complex history through a period of fundamental change in archaeological practice, legislation, finance, research priorities and theoretical paradigms in British Archaeology. Subsequent chapters deal with the prehistoric landscape, each focusing on the major themes that emerge by major period from analysis and synthesis of the data. The authors draw on archival material including site notebooks and personal accounts from key participants to provide a detailed but lively account of this iconic landscape investigation.
Prehistoric Communities at Colne Fen, Earith
Christopher Evans, Matt Brudenell, Ricky Patten and Roddy Regan
Hardback | £30 | ISBN 9780954482497 |288pp. | 137 figs. | 70 tables | 2013 | Buy now
Charting a decade of intensive fieldwork along a 2km stretch of the Colne Fen, Earith fen-edge, the scope of these books is formidable and together they include the work of 65 contributing specialists (with a forward by Ian Hodder). The fieldwork involved innovative methodologies, and ground-breaking scientific and micro-sampling studies are presented within the volumes. Portions of text are, moreover, avowedly experimental (e.g. intertextuality and antiquarian-informed perspectives) and it explores the long-term interplay of landscape process and (proto-) historicism. Appropriate to the practice of a comparative archaeology and the ‘challenge of numbers’, throughout emphasis is given to multiple-scale settlement and spatial/distributional analyses.
Concerned with the landscape’s prehistory, Volume I, apart from relating the project’s palaeo-environmental researches, outlines the excavation of two ring-ditch monuments (with accompanying cremation cemeteries), major Middle Bronze Age fieldsystems and their accompanying occupation clusters, and seven Iron Age settlements.
Romano-British Communities at Colne Fen, Earith
Christopher Evans, Grahame Appleby, Sam Lucy and Roddy Regan
Hardback | £45 | ISBN 9780957559202 | 517pp. | 244 figs. | 119 tables | 2013 | Buy now
Charting a decade of intensive fieldwork along a 2km stretch of the Colne Fen, Earith fen-edge, the scope of these books is formidable and together they include the work of 65 contributing specialists (with a foreword by Ian Hodder). The fieldwork involved innovative methodologies, and groundbreaking scientific and micro-sampling studies are presented within the volumes. Portions of text are, moreover, avowedly experimental (e.g. intertextuality and antiquarian-informed perspectives) and it explores the long-term interplay of landscape process and (proto-) historicism. Appropriate to the practice of a comparative archaeology and the ‘challenge of numbers’, throughout emphasis is given to multiple-scale settlement and spatial/distributional analyses.
The scale of Volume II — the ‘Roman book’ — is even more daunting. Aside from including reports of earlier local excavations, it is primarily concerned with two major ‘set-piece’ sites. The one, Langdale Hale, was a mass-production supply farm; the other, The Camp Ground, a great inland barge-port settlement linked to the Car Dyke canal. Both reflect upon the potential role of the state and address crucial issues of ‘Romanization’, with facets of their sequences markedly contrasting with the Stonea-engendered Fenland Imperial Estate model. Besides uniquely detailing the character of the settlements’ Late Roman usage (involving terpen-like mounds and raised ‘platformed’ structures) and trade connections, the port-site’s aftermath is also discussed as an important assemblage of Anglo-Scandinavian bonework was recovered. To provide further immediate-landscape context, the results from neighbouring sites also feature, including an important Late Roman cemetery at Knobbs Farm, Somersham.
Spong Hill, part IX: chronology and synthesis
Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy
Hardback | £59/US$118 | ISBN 978-1-902937-62-5 | xvi + 479 pp. | 166 figs. | 70 tables | 2013 | Buy now
Spong Hill, with over 2500 cremations, remains the largest early Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery to have been excavated in Britain. This volume presents the long-awaited chronology and synthesis of the site. It gives a detailed overview of the artefactual evidence, which includes over 1200 objects of bone, antler and ivory. Using this information, together with programmes of correspondence analysis of the cremation urns and the grave-goods, a revised phasing and chronology of the site is offered, which argues that it is largely fifth-century in date. The implications of this revised dating for interpretations of the early medieval period in Britain and further afield are explored in full.
Christopher Evans, Emma Beadsmoore, Matt Brudenell, Gavin Lucas
Paperback | £30 | ISBN 9780954482480 | 260pp. | 140 figs. | 60 tables | 2009 | Buy now
At its core, this volume reports upon three large-scale excavations at Fengate, Peterborough. These cast new light on Briton's premier Bronze Age fieldsystem and their results lead to significant reappraisal of facets of Pryor's earlier interpretations and, also, approaches to the period's land-use generally. Reflecting upon such crucial issues as the character of settlement, landholding/territory and power, their discussion is furthered by the book's summary presentation of other recent prehistoric fieldsystems projects within the East Anglian Fenlands. Indeed, greater contextual overview is provided by an in-depth interview contribution by the 'Fieldsystem Triumvirate' of the '70/80s: Richard Bradley, Andrew Fleming and Francis Pryor himself.
In keeping with its series' groundbreaking directive of 'Historiography and Fieldwork', having access to Wyman Abbott's archival sources (augmented by his correspondence with E.T. Leeds), for the first time, his early 20th century investigations can now be fully incorporated with subsequent excavations. This historiographic perspective allows, moreover, for unique insights into Edwardian archaeological practices, particularly the impact of type-based methodologies - pots, pits and peoples - and even the lingering influence today of prehistoric 'type cultures' concepts.
The Anglo-Saxon Settlement and Cemetery at Bloodmoor Hill, Carlton Colville, Suffolk. (East Anglian Archaeology 131)
Sam Lucy, Jess Tipper and Alison Dickens
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-9544824-6-6 | 476pp. | 241 figs. | 16 b/w plates | 160 tables | 2009 | Download (free)
Excavations at Bloodmoor Hill by the CAU revealed a well-preserved and almost complete early Anglo-Saxon settlement, dating from the 6th to early 8th centuries AD, and a mid to late 7th-century cemetery, which lay within the settlement itself and included high-status female graves. The total excavated area exceeded 30,000sq m, and produced the remains of thirty-eight structures associated with sunken features (Grubenhäuser or SFBs), at least nine well-defined post-buildings (including one post-in-trench), four extensive 'midden' heaps or surface spread concentrations, and approximately 270 pits, as well as five hearth or oven bases. The site is remarkable for the amount of metalworking debris in evidence: over 160kg of metalworking slag, including hearth bottoms, crucibles and moulds, together with extensive collections of apparently scrap metal, which was found in concentrations indicative of distinct industrial areas. The site also produced large assemblages of Anglo-Saxon pottery, fired clay, animal bone and other materials. The structures and other features from the site are fully described, and the finds assemblages analysed by category, in order to characterise the status and nature of the settlement and its associated activities. The excavation methodology employed, whereby a proportion of features, including the surface deposits, were dug in spits and metre-squares, has enabled a detailed analysis of artefactual and soil movement across the site through time. Thus, the formation and growth of surface deposits, and the collection and dispersion of rubbish deposits from surface to subsoil feature, are outlined through a series of distribution plots. The end result is a multi-faceted study of one of the most complete early Anglo-Saxon settlements yet to be excavated, which concludes that the settlement may have been an early form of estate centre with associated high-status burial and industrial activity.
Christopher Evans, Duncan Mackay and Leo Webley
Paperback | £25 | ISBN 9780954482473 | pp.224 | 108 figs. | 50 tables | 2008 | Buy now
Taking its inspiration from Cyril Fox's groundbreaking 1923 study of its namesake, and with its first volume issued to mark the 85th anniversary of his book, this series is dedicated to the archaeology of Cambridge's hinterland. In recent years an enormous amount of fieldwork has occurred within the City's environs, to the point that it must now rank as one of the most intensively investigated landscapes in southern England.
This volume reports the 2002/03 Hutchinson Site excavations beside Addenbrooke's Hospital. While primarily concerned with its Iron Age/Roman Conquest-Period dynamics, there was also significant later Bronze Age and Middle Saxon occupation.
The site's sequence both informs, and is informed by, the results of an evaluation survey extending over 200ha west to the River Cam, which led to the recovery of some 15 new sites. Thereafter, three other landscape evaluation case-studies are presented, drawn both from the County's southern chalklands and also its western and northern clays. Seeing comparable site-discovery rates, this enormous increase in known site densities has fundamental implications for understandings of early land-use and settlement/population levels, and allows archaeologists to appreciate for the first time what is, in effect, the past fabric of the land. The case is made that such grand-scale surveys should be considered as 'stand-alone' programmes of investigation in their own right.
Past and Present: Excavations at Broom, Bedfordshire 1996-2005
Anwen Cooper and Mark Edmunds
Hardback | £30 | ISBN 9780954482442 | 282pp. | 138 figs. | 30 tables | 2007 | Buy now
Documenting the results of some ten years of fieldwork, this volume explores the prehistoric occupation of a small valley near Broom, on the Bedfordshire gravels. It traces a biography of the landscape from the later Mesolithic through to the Iron Age, a sequence that saw profound changes in the character, scale and temporality of occupation. Undertaken in advance of gravel extraction, the scale of the fieldwork reported here made it possible to track not only the sequence of occupation, but also how prehistoric communities encountered, appropriated or ignored the 'archaeology' of their time. Set against sequences from across southern England, this work sheds important light on the relationship between local histories and broader processes, and on the complex and geographically varied ways in which the past itself was understood in the past.
A Line Across Land: Fieldwork on the Isleham–Ely Pipeline (East Anglian Archaeology 121)
Kasia Gdaniec, Mark Edmonds and Patricia E.J. Wiltshire
Paperback | £12 | ISBN 978-0-9544824-5-9| 106 pp. | 40 figs. | 2007 | Buy now | Download (free)
Construction of a water supply pipeline in Cambridgeshire provided an opportunity to sample the prehistoric landscape along a transect that crossed several major geological boundaries. This narrow window ran from the Lower Chalk of the ancient peninsula of Isleham, across the heavy low-lying clays of Soham and down into the peat fen of Stuntney and south-east Ely. Within the constraints set by the development, field investigation and subsequent analysis were conducted at several scales. In the initial stage, attention focused on predicted occupation areas (principally at the fen margins), while the intervening landscape — between these areas and known sites — was sampled. Along with palaeoenvironmental data, samples of flint, burnt flint and other materials provided a context within which to explore specific models for interpreting the character of later prehistoric landscape occupation across a diverse set of conditions.
As a consequence of landscape sampling, six significant site areas were designated for archaeological investigation. These were located at the neck of the sand and chalk peninsula of Isleham, extending down its gradually sloping western edge towards the braided palaeochannels of the River Snail. This occupation-rich zone on the chalk contrasted sharply with areas of the fen that showed little evidence of early occupation where crossed by the pipeline. Two of these sites saw more extensive fieldwork funded by English Heritage, and these form the main body of the report.
These different scales and intensities of work in the field are reflected in the structure of the report. The extensive survey and evaluation is dealt with in Chapter 2 and provides a full record of work conducted along the length of the pipeline corridor. Chapter 3 documents the more limited investigations conducted at four of the site areas identified in stage 1. The core of the volume lies in Chapters 4 and 5, which deal with the more substantive records arising from work at Prickwillow Road and around the palaeochannels of the River Snail. Dominated by Early Bronze Age and Earlier Neolithic material respectively, these ‘sites’ add a significant body of information to our understanding of the later prehistoric sequence in the area, data which are set in broader context in Chapter 6.
A woodland archaeology: the Haddenham Project, vol. 1
Christopher Evans and Ian Hodder
Hardback | £35/US$75 | ISBN 978-1-902937-31-1 | 262 pp. | 190 ills | 103 tables | 2006 | Buy now
Set in the context of this project’s innovative landscape surveys, four extraordinary sites excavated at Haddenham, north of Cambridge chart the transformation of Neolithic woodland to Romano-British marshland, providing unrivalled insights into death and ritual in a changing prehistoric environment. The highlight of Volume 1 is the internationally renowned Foulmire Fen long barrow, with its preserved timber burial chamber and façade. The massive individual timbers allow detailed study of Neolithic wood technology and the direct examination of a structure that usually survives only as a pattern of post holes.
Marshland communities and cultural landscape: the Haddenham Project, vol. 2
Christopher Evans and Ian Hodder
Hardback | £35/US$75 | ISBN 978-1-902937-32-8 | 344 pp | 291 figs. | 155 tables | 2006 | Buy now
Set in the context of this project’s innovative landscape surveys, four extraordinary sites excavated at Haddenham, north of Cambridge chart the transformation of Neolithic woodland to Romano-British marshland, providing unrivalled insights into death and ritual in a changing prehistoric environment. Volume 2 moves on to later periods, and reveals how Iron Age and Romano-British communities adapted to the wetland environment that had now become established.
Between Broad Street and the Great Ouse: Waterfront Archaeology in Ely. (East Anglian Archaeology 114)
Craig Cessford, Mary Alexander and Alison Dickens
Ebook | ISBN10 0 9544824 3 3 | 118pp. | 70 figs. | 18 tables | 2006 | Download (free)
Recent excavations between Broad Street and the river make an important contribution to study of the medieval urban development of Ely. A deeply stratified continuous building sequence was revealed along Broad Street, dating from the 12th century onwards. Beyond this was evidence for industrial activities, particularly 16th- and 17th-century pottery production and 17th-century tanning. Several channels led inland from the river for loading and unloading boats at this time. Significant artefact assemblages were recovered, particularly pottery and ceramic building material, and individually notable pieces such as a sword cross and two decorated leather sheaths. Of particular importance is the identification and characterisation of the early post-medieval pottery industry which produced a range of earthenware, bichrome, fineware and Babylon ware products. This report utilises the structural, artefactual and environmental evidence from several sites plus documentary and cartographic sources to consider the topography and development of this part of Ely.
The Saxon and Medieval Settlement at West Fen Road, Ely: the Ashwell Site. (East Anglian Archaeology 110)
Richard Mortimer, Roderick Regan and Sam Lucy
Paperback | £20 | ISBN 0-9544824-1-7 | 200pp. | 90 figs. | 12 b/w plates | 32 tables | 2005 | Buy now | Download (free)
Excavations by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit near Ely city centre produced abundant evidence for Mid and Late Saxon and medieval settlement. From the early 8th century the site saw continuous occupation, often within the same ditched property boundaries, for almost 800 years until its eventual desertion in the 15th century. A detailed reconstruction of the settlement history of the site indicates a very stable, but gradually evolving settlement which probably provided food and other services, originally to the monastic settlement, then to the abbey, and subsequently to the bishops. The finds assemblage suggests that the occupants of the settlement did not enjoy a high-status lifestyle; a lack of imported pottery and of high-value metalwork, and an almost total absence of coinage, all indicate that this site was somewhat removed from the ecclesiastical power centre to the east.
Excavations at Kilverstone, Norfolk, 2000–02. (East Anglian Archaeology 113)
Duncan Garrow, Sam Lucy and David Gibson
ISBN 10-0-9544824-2-5 | 250pp. | 250 figs. | 12 b/w plates | 2006 | Download (free)
Excavations by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit near Kilverstone revealed an occupation sequence spanning the Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Extensive Early Neolithic activity was evidenced by 236 clustered pits containing quantities of pottery, worked and burnt flint, charred hazelnuts and seeds and other material. The site is of national importance, with the number of pits discovered placing it alongside the type-sites of Hurst Fen and Broome Heath. A smaller number of Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age pits, along with six cremations and a Middle Iron Age structure, attests to intermittent further activity. In the mid 1st century BC a settlement was established which was occupied until the 4th century AD.
Initially, the later Iron Age/Roman settlement is evidenced by boundary and enclosure ditches, and a number of pits, but the area then saw construction of a series of square and rectangular structures. In the later 2nd century AD, activity appears to have been focused around a large aisled building. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, these buildings were replaced by three circular buildings, one of which is tentatively interpreted as a metallurgical workshop (with a double-acting force pump associated). Outside was a series of pits containing a ‘blacksmith’s hoard’: a stack of pewter plates and a selection of metalworking and agricultural tools.
Activity at the site was again intermittent until perhaps the 6th century, when a small Anglo-Saxon settlement, consisting of at least ten buildings associated with sunken features and four post-built halls, was established. This was probably associated with a small number of burials to the south, four of which were furnished with weapons (though, unusually, none with jewellery), and there was a further urned cremation. No subsequent activity was recorded at the site except for medieval and later field ditches and a ‘Suffolk-type’ brick kiln probably associated with the nearby village of Kilverstone.
Power and Island Communities: Excavations at the Wardy Hill Ringwork, Coveney, Ely. (East Anglian Archaeology 103)
Paperback | £23 | ISBN 0-9544824-0-9 | 308pp. | 145 figs | 17 b/w plates | 83 tables | 2003 | Buy now | Download (free)
The Wardy Hill site occupied a prominent spur dominating a former marsh embayment on the north side of the Isle of Ely, and was delineated by a complex ditch network during the Middle/Later Iron Age. An occupied bivallete ringwork that arose from an enclosed farmstead was totally excavated in 1991–92. Issues relating to the character of ‘defence’ and to social hierarchies (i.e. the command of labour and territory) are central to the research. An overview considers other major enclosures within the region, and summarises the results of recent Iron Age/Roman excavations nearby.
The locale saw later Mesolithic/Neolithic visitation and more substantive Bronze Age occupation, the latter possibly involving a series of embanked boundaries. The question of pre-Iron Age utilisation of Ely’s heavy clay lands is explored. The ringwork system fell from use in the late 1st century AD (there is no evidence of the Boudiccan rebellion of AD 60). Early Roman ceramics occurred within its interior (including Samian within its roundhouses); the research considers the issue of archaic communities (i.e. ‘lingering’ Iron Age) and processes of Romanization, aided by a Bayesian radiocarbon chronology.
Full environmental and palaeo-economic analyses allow reconstruction of Iron Age land-use. The dynamics of roundhouse settlement models are addressed, and depositional practices are considered in detail. When combined with the results of surface investigation (fieldwalking and test-pitting), the latter research permits estimation of the enclosure’s total artefact populations. The site produced substantial finds assemblages: among the finds were a decorated La Tène pot and, uniquely, a rivet-decorated stave from a small wooden container. Iron Age pottery analysis was supported by pottery thin-sectioning.
The results of artefactual and chemical ploughsoil surveys are integrated with excavation data. Methodological issues are highlighted, as are the practices of a contextual archaeology. The character of cultural landscapes is explored, particularly in relation to ‘island identities’ (the Isle of Ely only having become a great marsh-locked fenland island during later prehistory). The volume concludes on the theme of marginalisation and the impossibility of recovering ‘totalities’— these communities, no matter how ‘remote’, were linked to networks that led outwards.
The volume is interspersed with ‘fieldwork’ pieces arising from an artist-in-residence programme. Variously relating to the loss and distinction of ‘place’/monuments, also included are the results of a survey concerning local attitudes towards the fenland past.