The Bronze Age at University

Archaeologists’ groundbreaking find

ARCHAEOLOGISTS digging in the grounds of a Cambridge University college have unearthed the first hard evidence that the area of the ancient city was occupied during the Bronze Age.

The remains were discovered during a dig at Fitzwilliam College, off Huntingdon Road, and probably belonged to a farmstead which thrived 3,500 years ago.

Plenty of Bronze Age remains have been found elsewhere in Cambridgeshire – notably in the Addenbrooke’s and Peterborough areas, and the lower reaches of River Great Ouse – but this is the first time that anything from the period (3500 to 1100 BC) has been found in the city of Cambridge itself.

Researchers from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is part of the university, made the discovery during an archaeological survey ahead of the building of the new library in the college grounds.

The remains comprise a series of ditches, in which the team found pieces of antler working, flint tools, pottery, animal remains and other scattered debris dating from about 1500 BC.

Christopher Evans, from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, said: “The site is extremely intriguing and looks rather incongruous amid the modern college buildings.

“It appears to be the remains of an agricultural settlement.

“We know this area of Britain was extensively occupied during the Bronze Age and this is an important find that helps us to fill in that picture.

“It will also help us understand the early development of Cambridge’s early hinterland.”

The site at Fitzwilliam also features a number of later, Roman remains, which add to a Roman find unearthed in the early 1990s during digging at a neighbouring university college, New Hall.

Prehistorians also know there was an Iron Age settlement nearby, at Castle Hill, during the 1st century BC. The same site was later used by the Romans, who established the town in the mid 1st century AD.

Cambridge: Past, Present and Future 


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