Aerial view of Clay Farm

Samian cup from an early Roman cremation burial

Recording a cremation burial

Project: The largest excavation in Cambridge: Clay Farm, Trumpington, Cambridgeshire

Client: URS Scott Wilson for Countryside Properties

Status: Fieldwork Complete 2011, post excavation analysis and publication underway

The year-long investigation at Clay Farm on the southern fringe of Cambridge represents the largest single archaeological excavation ever undertaken in the Cambridge area in advance of housing development.

The 20 hectare site was divided into four areas, with the bulk of the archaeology dating from the middle Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period. Initially laid out around 1500 BC, the system of middle Bronze Age rectilinear fields and enclosures covered more than half the excavation area, though there was a noticeable absence at the centre of the site.

The large and highly significant finds assemblage included large quantities of shell-tempered Deverel-Rimbury pottery, flint-tempered finewares, animal bone, bone needles, a bronze spearhead, flint arrowheads, land large numbers of heated sandstones.

The middle Iron Age activity was centred on an area to the south in Site 2. Its principal boundary was a curvilinear ditch which followed the contour of the terrace, enclosing the higher and drier ground to the west. Within this enclosure there were several roundhouses and areas of pitting.

Two high-status cremation burials were present in the late Iron Age period on the eve of the Roman conquest, and an early Roman settlement developed nearby. The settlement was abandoned before the end of the 2nd century, although there was limited evidence for activity continuing into the late Roman period.

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