Opportunity to Dig at North West Cambridge (Eddington) with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU)

Following on from the success of the community excavations at Northstowe, another free community excavation is starting in September alongside archaeologists from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) at the North West Cambridge Development, also known as Eddington.


Masterplan for North West Cambridge © http://www.nwcambridge.co.uk

The community excavations at NW Cambridge will start on Monday 10th September 2018 at 9am and will run for two weeks until Friday 21st of September 2018. The dig will run Monday to Friday only and is open to all over the age of 14. If you are aged under 18 and would like to take part, please note that you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

There is no limit on the number of days you can participate, and you will be working alongside professional archaeologists from the CAU as they start to excavate the next phase of works at NW Cambridge, close to Madingley Park and Ride, recorded as Site VII in the map below. The schedule for on-site work will be to arrive for 9am and the day will finish at 4pm. There will be a break for half an hour from 10.30am and an additional break for 45 minutes for lunch at 1pm. There is no opportunity to buy food on site, so please bring enough food/snacks, although there is a Sainsburys located in Eddington. Tea/coffee will be provided and there is fresh drinking water also available. It is advised that you should bring your own mug and water bottle.

Overall Map
North West Cambridge Archaeological Sites and Underlying Geology © CAU

Sensible clothing must be worn. Layers are advised with appropriate clothing that won’t matter if it gets dirty, with waterproofs, hat and sun cream as necessary. Please wear sturdy trainers or walking boots, any open toed shoes are not allowed and you may be turned away from site. If you have one, please also bring your own trowel. There is also a CAU risk assessment that you will be required to read and sign on your first day on site to make sure you adhere to the University of Cambridge’s and North West Cambridge’s Health and Safety regulation.

Roman Pits & Ditches
A selection of Roman pits and ditches previously excavated at NW Cambridge © CAU

Previous work here began in earnest during the winter of 2012-2013. The Cambridge Archaeological Unit as a dedicated web page to North West Cambridge that can be accessed here and contains all the results on the archaeological work so far, including a British Archaeology Magazine article from 2015.

The archaeology already identified here showed that the first permanent settlements dated mainly from the Middle Bronze Age (1500-1200 BC) onwards with significant Iron Age (700 BC – AD 50) and Roman settlements (AD 50-410). Some of the highlights so far include five separate cemeteries, two funerary monuments, two Roman roads, ring-ditch ‘circles’ and thousands of finds including some 30 cremation urns, 25 skeletons, a military spearhead and an array of brooches, plus quantities of slag attesting to significant iron-working. The 2018 excavations hope to build on what is already known  about the area and it is believed that Site VII is centered around a high status later Romano-British settlement, potentially even a villa, so the possibility for some more exciting archaeology could well be on the cards!

Roman Burials
Roman burials from NW Cambridge. Left: cremations and Right: inhumations © CAU

There will also be an open day on Saturday 15th of September for members of the public (including children) to visit, with exhibitions of some of the finds, information, activities for younger visitors and tours of the current areas of excavation. The last open day was back in March 2013, when it was also snowing! Hopefully this year the weather will be a bit kinder to us as it also ties in with Open Eddington, devised by the North West Cambridge Development where there will be over 25 free events showcasing Cambridge’s newest district of Eddington. The full brochure and programme of events can be downloaded off the Open Eddington website.

Open Day
The 2013 NW Cambridge Open Day © CAU

If you would like to participate in the dig or for further information, please contact Catherine Collins at ACA on either 01223 761519 or via email on access@arch.cam.ac.uk. Places are limited and as stated above, you can attend the dig for as many days as you like, but please let us know beforehand what days you would like to attend. If you just turn up on the day unannounced you may not be able to take part.


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