Work continues at an impressive pace on our Harvest Way dig. We continue to excavate Victorian and Georgian remains, and have some nice finds. Toby excavated a well containing Victorian rubbish yesterday, and pulled out ten complete green bottles - seen here standing on a wall! He also pulled out a rather beautiful blue and white ware (Victorian) lid. We are also beginning to uncover Medieval remains - more on this as the project develops.
Before the project started we expected to find many Medieval wells. It is interesting that we are currently uncovering many Victorian wells across the site. These are probably associated with the back gardens of the houses that used to face on to Newmarket Road in the Victorian period. It is always interesting for archaeologists to see how land use is adapted through time, for example the well in the picture (right) was filled in with concrete by the people who built the factory on the site in the 1960s, who wanted to build a red brick wall across the area. Wells are very useful sources of information for archaeologists, since when they stop being used as sources of water people often used them as a useful place to dump their rubbish. Waterlogged conditions in some wells preserve objects that normally decompose, such as leather and wood, although sadly we haven't found these conditions on this site yet!
In order to find out more about the Medieval roots of the site, Jemima went for a walk yesterday to see what hints remain of the Medieval use of the area. The most obvious signs to a casual observer that Barnwell Priory used to stand here are the road names: Abbey Road and Priory Road. The two standing remains of the priory are the church of St Andrew the Less which was built in the early 13th century by Barnwell Priory, and what is known as the 'Cellarer's Checker' (left), believed to be the building where the Cellarer checked goods going in and out of the monastery.
Barnwell Priory stone can be seen reused in several of the walls in the area, such as those surrounding Abbey House, and on Beche Road beneath St Andrew the Less. Piles of priory stone can also be found in the graveyard of St Andrew the Less church, and we have also found a considerable quantity of worked priory stone on our Harvest Way dig. This practice of reusing stone in later buildings is commonly found in archaeological investigations, particularly in areas such as Cambridge which does not have natural stone resources. We know that many of the Cambridge colleges were built with stone from closed and dissolved monasteries in the area.
A surprise find came from Abbey House, built in the 1670s on the site of the old priory. Although the house is architecturally interesting in its own right, the gardens provide the best evidence of Barnwell priory. An ornate column survives in a flowerbed, and this archway (left) is a beautiful reminder of how Barnwell Priory once looked. The Buddhist statue is not original: Abbey House is now used as a Buddhist community.