Iron age discovery at housing site sheds new light on history of town

Iron Age remains were found at the Wintringham Park site.

Iron Age remains were found at the Wintringham Park site. - Credit: Archant

An archaeological dig has discovered evidence of Iron Age families who lived and worked in St Neots more than 2,000 years ago.

The first phase of the excavation work, which is part of the preparation for new housing at Wintringham Farm, shows field boundaries and remains of round houses, which were typical of the Iron Age period, as well as fragments of Iron Age pottery.

Members of the St Neots Local History Society and St Neots Museum curator, Liz Davies, visited the site in November and the dig itself is being co-ordinated by Oxford Archaeology East.

“The Iron Age families who lived on the site 2,000 years ago were farmers who grew crops and kept cows, sheep and pigs, and the archaeologists have found evidence of tracks and field boundaries from the period (400-100BC),” said Mrs Davies.

She added: “The excavations have revealed evidence of several Iron Age round houses. They often leave little evidence in the ground where they once stood, but a shallow ditch shows where rainwater ran off the thatched roof of the house.”

The remains of a pond that was probably used to provide drainage for farm animals was also discovered.

“It is fascinating to think of the people who used the pottery and lived on the site more than 2,000 years ago,” added Mrs Davies.

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The site visit was organised by the St Neots Local History Society and member Sue Jarrett described the finds as an important part of the town’s history.

“This is an important dig as we now know there were settlers living along the Cambridge Road and that this area was not just fields. Until now, it was thought this area was always vegetation.”

Mrs Jarrett said it was expected that further excavation work would be carried out in the future and the dig site would be expanded.

The dig was the first phase of archaeological excavations on the site and it is hoped there will be open days and site tours at a later date.