JUNE 18-19 Big Dig 2016

Histon and Impington Village Society Archaeology Group

Another Successful Digging Weekend 18/19 June 2016

Download this report as a PDF (best for printing) HistonImpingtonJune2016Report

Our volunteers enjoyed a fine and very sociable weekend – no rain and not too hot.  Many thanks indeed to everyone who kindly hosted a test pit and made us all so welcome.  The many cups of tea and coffee, the cakes, biscuits and hot bacon butties ensured a productive couple of days.






The Finds

Many  of the owners who chose this weekend to offer their sites live on the edges of the villages. This has produced results which are surprisingly different from those last time, helping with the aim of building up a good and balanced picture of land use and settlement pattern. It turns out the answer lies very much in the soil. Three sites on former cultivated open fields had a good gravel content in the soil with signs of activity but few signs of occupation.  One had charcoal scattered throughout and there was just one piece of early pottery in another.


Cottenham Road with Mike


St Audrey’s Close


Cambridge Road

By contrast, the Mill Lane site was on wet heavy clay with a high water table and no drainage. In the seventeenth century these were the “Mill Lane Closes” – small fields suitable for housing stock, but not for cultivation.  The sites at Church Street and 18 Cambridge Road held unexpected surprises. An amazing collection of bed springs formed what appears to be part of a relatively recent infill of a gravel pit. At the other site, two mysterious huge cast iron pipes appeared, which seem to pass directly under the pre-war bungalow and across the old main road. It would be interesting to know their origin and purpose – perhaps connected with a previous house opposite.



Church Street with Paul


Heavy clay in Mill Lane



Down to earth in Pages Close

After much deep digging with a comprehensive rota of volunteers, the  Pages Close site produced early medieval  pottery, possibly Iron Age, with a piece of Roman black burnished ware, followed by some delicate worked flints of Bronze Age or Neolithic date.  Despite its closeness to the four sites nearer to the Brook which had middle and late medieval occupation, there was just a deep band of thick alluvial clay showing the site was probably flooded during that period.


A careful start


A neat finish


The Pipes

Many thanks to all the volunteers who came especially to work with us – friends, neighbours, relations – and helpers from Hills Road Sixth Form College, the St Ives Group and the Histon and Impington enviro-volunteers.

We are particularly grateful to have had such a good team of experienced advisors to get everyone off to a good start and to help us to proceed with confidence  – Terry Dymott, Mike Coles and Robert Skeen of the Cambridge Archaeological Field Group and Paul Clarkson – who have all been such a big support.

Thanks to Will Russell for his excellent photos and to the Meldreth Local History Group for the loan of their equipment. Lastly also to the families who, having come for cream teas bought in the School’s Auction of Promises, found themselves happily joining in the sieving and searching !


Roman black burnished ware


Medieval – or older?


German china doll from Mill Lane

Worked flints   –  blades or waste?


We were delighted to welcome Clemency Cooper, the new Community Archaeology Manager with Oxford Archaeology East, who kindly spent Saturday morning with us – “the perfect end to my first week at OA”.  Clemency will oversee the continuation of the work begun by the Heritage Lottery Funded Jigsaw Project which has helped set up local groups, including ours, and has put on courses which many have attended. We look forward to working closely with her in the future.


A pause with Clemency



Paddy discussing the pottery

Thank you for returning such beautifully clean equipment and for the enjoyable tea party in the St Audrey’s Centre, where we were fortunate to have Paddy Lambert of Oxford Archaeology to discuss the finds.



Photo now in the time capsule carefully buried for archaeologists of the future.