|26 February 2006
Cambridgeshire dig reveals 2,000 years of history
Thousands of years of history have been uncovered at a major archaeological dig in St Neots (Cambridgeshire, England). From Iron Age relics to medieval ground works a record of the last 2,000 years and beyond has been carefully unearthed at the Love's Farm site, just off Cambridge Road.
After a year of hard and painstaking work by a team of more than 20 archaeologists, the dig – one of the largest ever undertaken in the UK – is now coming to a close. More than half the 60 hectare site has been stripped and meticulously mapped out so that centuries of historical data can be recorded before the site is developed with new homes, a school and other facilities. The dig was commissioned and funded by Gallagher Estates and has been conducted by the Archaeological Field Unit of Cambridgeshire County Council.
Project director Mark Hinman from the archaeological field unit explained the dig's significance. He said: "The site is so large that the overall layout is best appreciated from the air. The ancient ditches of the Iron Age and Roman periods are visible as complex patterns of dark lines that are overlain by more recent boundaries. We have been able to trace the development of the site from these early origins to the present day. I think that what is most amazing about the whole site is that the landscape around here was always thought to be completely modern but this site shows that the layout has been here since the Iron Age."
People moved on to the land around the first century BCE. Farming was always the main focus of activity, with cattle, sheep and horses the main livestock and wheat, oats and barley the main crops. Changes in diet and fashion have been charted through discarded remains found in the mud. Finds from the site include Iron Age insects, Roman grape pips and rare examples of leather shoes. A dog with white stones in its eye sockets, horses buried without their heads and carefully chosen collections of objects such as cooking pots buried at the entranceway to enclosures indicate that religious belief, superstition and magic clearly played an important part in everyday life.
All the artefacts recovered at the Love Lane site are now being preserved and catalogued by the county council.
Source: St Ives Today (23 February 2006)
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