Histon Big Dig ( Archaeology Project 2016 )

Final Reports

Report on the faunal remains recovered during the 2016 excavations in Histon and Impington

Faunal remains found during 2016 excavations in Histon and Impington (PDF)

Faunal remains found during 2016 excavations in Histon and Impington (Microsoft Word)

Report on Pottery from Test-pits at Histon and Impington

Pottery found during the 2016 excavations in Histon and Impington (PDF)

Pottery found during the 2016 excavations in Histon and Impington (Word)


Over 250 people were involved at some stage or another – a remarkable effort. Several people have commented on the social aspects of the project – how  working together has promoted a feeling of community  and provided an opportunity to get to know people you would not normally meet. All quite apart from the spectacular uncovering of the origins of our villages. I hope to give a full report at a talk in October.

Completed Digs

Histon and Impington Archaeology

David Oates

Have you ever wondered what our villages were like in the Roman or Saxon periods?

After a lifetime learning the local history of Histon and Impington from my parents, I have just spent two years back in the district studying the early formation of the villages as part of a Historical Environment course in the University.

Using techniques such as modern LIDAR airborne radar data, we can see many hitherto unknown features of the landscape our forbears had to contend with – not least the knock-on effect when the Fenland flooding was at its worst, still relevant today.

Both villages were probably already large and prosperous in the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods, being in a particularly favoured agricultural area. However, there has never been any serious attempt to collect evidence from the built-up area of the villages to see whether this is really true and where the settlements were.

Did the Anglo-Saxons live on the high ground near the churches in Histon and Impington? Where did the Romano-British have their farmsteads before the land was overcome by the sluggish waters of the Fens?

The newest and most intriguing discovery is of a huge flood plain, a hundred times larger than the present Histon Green. This boggy Summer Meadow separated Histon from Impington, explaining their development as two distinct villages – see the green outline on the map overleaf. It contains the sites of six pubs and five chapels!

Can we show that the Anglo-Saxons dug ditches to drain it and that settlement then spread from the high ground into the area of the Green and the High Street?

The basic technique for such investigations is to dig carefully excavated test pits one metre square to see what pottery and other remains can be found at different levels. Expert analysis can then show in which periods that site was settled and occupied.

In conjunction with the Village Society and local archaeology groups I am organising a project with this as its main objective. To start with, there will be four drop-in sessions at the St Andrew’s Centre from 7.00 to 8.30 pm on Mondays 1st, 8th, 22nd and 29th February. Anyone of any age who is interested in finding out more about the early history of our area is very welcome to drop in at any time on any of these evenings.

Do come along – and spread the word about. We don’t just need diggers. Finds-washers, tea makers and general enthusiasts are just as important. Especially come if you would like to have a test pit in your back garden and find out who really used to live there.

There will be powerpoint presentations and display tables showing the types of material that we may find. Several local archaeology groups have done this type of project and  some of their experts will be on hand to share their experiences and help us.

Please direct all enquiries to davidoates11@gmail.com.

Full details will also be available on the Histon and Impington Village Society’s web site https://histonandimpingtonvillagesociety.wordpress.com/