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A Bronze Age barrow and cremation cemetery and Early – Middle Iron Age settlement at The Fawcett Primary School, Cambridge

Phillips, Tom (2015) A Bronze Age barrow and cremation cemetery and Early – Middle Iron Age settlement at The Fawcett Primary School, Cambridge. Project Report. Oxford Archaeology Ltd., Bar Hill. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Between 24th March and 16th April 2014 Oxford Archaeology East undertook an excavation at Fawcett Primary School, Cambridge, in advance of the construction of new school buildings, access road and parking spaces. The excavation area covered approximately 0.2ha in the northern part of the school playing field, to the east of the existing buildings. The development area sits within a rich archaeological landscape with extensive evidence for Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman activity. Excavations covering nearly 20ha at Clay Farm, directly to the east and north, have revealed extensive Middle Bronze Age field systems and settlement, with further occupation throughout the Iron Age and Roman periods. A portion of Middle Bronze Age field system in the field directly to the north subsequently saw Early Iron Age settlement constructed within it. A Middle Iron Age enclosure system with associated settlement activity was excavated within the field adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Fawcett School. A south-east to north-west oriented trackway or routeway, which originated at least as early as the Middle Bronze Age, was also discovered in the field to the east. A geophysical survey within the school playing field clearly shows the trackway continuing into the development area. The excavation uncovered impressive prehistoric remains, dating between the Early Bronze Age and Middle Iron Age. The most surprising discovery was the ploughed-truncated remains of an Early Bronze Age double-ditched barrow in the east of the excavation area, which would once have enclosed a mound. The barrow was located on a natural promontory overlooking a shallow valley to the east. It had an internal diameter of 17.5m although only the northern side was uncovered, less than half of the monument. The outer ditch became the focus for a cemetery, with 38 cremation burials and one inhumation placed within it. A series of six radiocarbon dates indicate the burials span the Middle Bronze Age (the earliest being 1531 – 1417 cal. BC and the latest being 1257 – 1053 cal. BC, both at 95% confidence) but with a focus in the earlier part of the period. Approximately 35m to the north-west of the barrow was a much smaller ring-ditch, with an internal diameter of just over 4m and containing a single cremation burial. Although this feature has parallels with Middle Bronze Age Ardleigh-type burials from north-east Essex, the cremated bone returned a radiocarbon date of 781 – 520 cal. BC (95% confidence), dating it to the Early Iron Age. The surrounding ring ditch also contained a few sherds of Early Iron Age pottery. The two burial monuments were positioned parallel to the Bronze Age routeway. Within the excavation area, the routeway was marked by two large ditches, measuring up to 3.1m wide and 1.7m deep. The dimensions and orientation of these are similar to those of the Middle Bronze Age ditches in the field to the north, and all the extant parts of the routeway may be Middle Bronze Age in date. The uppermost fill of the northern ditch consisted of midden-like material and included an assemblage of Early Iron Age pottery, which clearly dates the construction of the ditch to well before the Early Iron Age. Other features included an area of Early Iron Age settlement and a short pit alignment, a small C-shaped enclosure, a possible oven, a group of quarry pits and at least one 4-post structure.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords:archaeological excavation, cambridgeshire, cambridge, iron age settlement, bronze age barrow, cremation, inhumation, cemetery, oven
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
ID Code:2796
Deposited By: Chris Faine
Deposited On:06 Apr 2016 13:53
Last Modified:06 Apr 2016 13:53

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