The remains of a village that is thought to have been occupied between the 8th and the 12th centuries has been discovered by workers who were undertaking major upgrade works to the A14 near Cambridge. Such discoveries can be common when undertaking construction works in historical areas such as London, and when they are discovered it usually means a team of archaeologists is brought to the site to investigate the finds. The case of the medieval village by the A14 is no exception.
The discoveries at the A14 site have led to 40 separate areas of excavation to be dug up and examined. The team undertaking this work has been led by the Museum of London Archaeology Headland Infrastructure. Battling less than ideal weather conditions, the team has expressed excitement at the wide range of artefacts and remains that have been discovered.
A team of more than 250 people has been searching the site, which measures around 350 hectares. Through these searches a total of 12 buildings of medieval origin have been found, as well as what are thought to be around 40 Anglo Saxon buildings made from timber. Surrounding the buildings are winding alleys, buildings that are thought to have been used for agricultural purposes, and other workshops.
Finds from other eras have also been unearthed, including as many as seven burial grounds believed to be from a prehistoric era, farms from a time between the Iron Age and the Roman era, and 40 Roman pottery kilns. Some younger discoveries were also found, including two post-medieval brick kilns.
This vast quantity of finds has helped to paint a picture of life in ancient settlements across this area of Cambridgeshire. Everything that has been discovered will be stored so that it can be preserved for generations to come.
The archaeological dig has resulted in a number of discoveries that date back to the Roman era. The Romans settled in Britain between the years 43 and 410 AD, with the majority of England and Wales being governed by the Roman Empire in what it called ‘Provincia Britannia’. Many key elements of Roman Britain remain, including the cities of Chester and York, but many have been either lost or covered up over time. The A14 site has uncovered remains of Roman civilisation that existed in the area, including the remains of what are believed to be a trade distribution centre This centre would have integrated supply chains using the Roman road system, similar to modern systems.
For those in the built environment industry, such as John Hiscocks, architect, archaeological building sites are very interesting places. For many people who have chosen careers in construction, building infrastructure for future generations is very exciting. However, the real excitement for archaeologists comes from finds like that near the A14, undertaking work to learn about previously unknown ancient settlements.
Planning For History
Major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail create opportunities to unearth previously undiscovered artefacts right across the city. For this reason the planners in charge of the Crossrail construction programme have included allowances into the plan, making the assumption that discoveries will be made. Not planning ahead can create delays which can push up overhead costs such as time, and therefore increase the cost to the developer.