Cambourne's Bronze Age past to be revealed in new book

A BOOK describing life in Cambourne in the Bronze Age will be placed in Cambourne Library today (Saturday, June 27). The book, Cambourne New Settlement, describes findings after 12 archaeological digs which began in 1989 and continued until building start

A BOOK describing life in Cambourne in the Bronze Age will be placed in Cambourne Library today (Saturday, June 27).

The book, Cambourne New Settlement, describes findings after 12 archaeological digs which began in 1989 and continued until building started on the present villages. The authors are a team from Wessex Archaeology, a non-profit-making body based near Salisbury: James Wright, Matt Leivers, Rachael Seager-Smith and Chris J Stevens.

The presentation will be accompanied by display of the work and some of the artefacts uncovered.

According to findings, a short-lived Bronze Age occupation was followed in the Middle Iron Age by small farming communities with an economy based on stock-raising and some arable cultivation. The Late Iron Age seems to have seen a recession, perhaps partly due to increased waterlogging making farming less viable.


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From the mid 1st century AD new settlements began to emerge, possibly partly stimulated by the presence of Ermine Street and within a century the area was relatively densely occupied.

Copies of the book will be available to the public from Cambourne Library and the Cambridgeshire Collection. Cambridgeshire County Council's head of libraries and archives, Lesley Noblett, said: "This book records details of the archaeological digs which were carried out before the development of Cambourne and gives information on the previous history of the area and the finds which were uncovered. We are very pleased that this important historical document has been presented to the local library."

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INFORMATION: The event will run from 10.30am-12.30pm.

CAMBOURNE'S STORY

STONE tools, including a 4,500 year old flint arrowhead, show that Stone Age hunters visited.

THE first settlement at Cambourne is believed to date back over 3,000 years, to the Bronze Age.

IRON Age farms, between 400-100 BC, had two or three round houses. Snail shells found in the ditch around the farmyard show that in winter the ditch was flooded as the heavy clay soils are slow to drain. Small gullies around the houses kept the houses dry.

The farmers kept cattle and sheep and some pigs. Wear on cattle bones shows that they probably puledl ploughs. Spelt and emmer wheat were farmed and collected using sickles. Querns stones were used to grind the wheat into flour. Clay loom weights kept wood taught for weaving. Stone whetstones were used to sharpen the blades of iron tools.

THE Roman invasion of AD 43 brought villas at Cambourne. The A1193 was the Roman Ermine Street, and the A428 was also a Roman road. Spelt wheat became the most common crop. Some of the quern stones used to grind the wheat were imported from Germany.

Links to a wider economy are shown by finds of coins. Pottery now came from specialist potteries some distance away and the finest, shiny, tables ware was imported from France. Glass jars and pewter plates were found.

During the medieval period, in the 12-13th centuries, Cambourne was under cultivation by ridge and furrow. As wool became a more important product, fields used for grazing for sheep.

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