A hitherto unknown Roman settlement has been discovered at Fenstanton during an archaeological did on the site of a new housing development.

DIG: Archaeologist Tori Guy shows a pot found at Fenstantont to pupilsDIG: Archaeologist Tori Guy shows a pot found at Fenstantont to pupils

Now youngsters from Fenstanton and Hilton Primary School have been given the chance to handle 2,000-year-old artefacts found during the excavation.

The site, off Cambridge Road, is close to a major Roman road between Cambridge and Godmanchester and the presence of a wealthy roadside settlement was suggested during exploratory work last year.

Housebuilder Kier Living Eastern funded the dig, by Albion Archaeology, on its development site called The Park.

Part of the settlement is so well preserved that Kier Living Eastern, in consultation with Cambridgeshire County Council’s historic environment team, agreed to leave it preserved within the open space of the development.

DIG: A horse and rider brooch found during the Fenstanton excavationsDIG: A horse and rider brooch found during the Fenstanton excavations

Kier also funded outreach work by the archaeological team to ensure youngsters from the school were among the first to hear about the finds in their village. More than 140 local people also attended special presentations about the dig.

Kathy Pilkinton, who led the excavations which started in May, said: “We were expecting to find lots of Roman remains but the results have proved even more interesting.”

In addition to ditches and pits, the archaeologists found wells, the footings of a substantial Roman building and a smaller Anglo-Saxon building.

They also discovered more than 100kg each of pottery and animal bones as well as bracelets, hair pins, more than 200 coins and 11kg of oyster shells which are believed to have been shipped from The Wash. Two small cemeteries were found, along with some isolated burials, totalling more than 20 sets of remains.

DIG: An Anglo-Saxon comb found at FenstantonDIG: An Anglo-Saxon comb found at Fenstanton

David Thomas, sales and marketing director at Kier Living Eastern, said: “We were delighted to work with Albion Archaeology at The Park, which is an exciting development, not least because of the history of the site and the village itself.

“We wanted to give the youngsters at Fenstanton and Hilton Primary School and other members of the community a preview of the exciting preliminary findings.”

Claire Worth, head teacher, said: “The children and staff were transfixed by the presentations and have been so enthused that lots of them have embarked on their own research.”

Keir will now fund a final report on the excavations.