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Medieval to modern suburban material culture and sequence at Grand Arcade, Cambridge: Archaeological investigations of an eleventh- to twentieth-century suburb and town ditch

By Craig Cessford and Alison Dickens

This is the first volume describing the results of the CAUs excavations in Cambridge and it is also the first monograph ever published on the archaeology of the town. At 1.5 hectares the Grand Arcade investigations represent the largest archaeological excavation ever undertaken in Cambridge, significantly enhanced by detailed standing building recording and documentary research. It includes one of the most comprehensive studies of the suburb of a British town, with fourteen investigated plots of the mid/late eleventh to twentieth centuries, and the most detailed investigation of a British town ditch ever undertaken, spanning the early/mid-twelfth to eighteenth centuries. Major artefactual assemblages of many material types were recovered, with extensive waterlogged preservation of wood and leather plus environmental sampling, including pollen and insects. The volume treats the copious eighteenth–twentieth-century material culture in a manner unparalleled in a British context, including a considerable number of college related items that attest to the town’s distinctive role as a university centre.

This is an important book, and the scale of the investigations and the richness of the archaeology make it a major contribution to studies of British town suburbs and boundaries in particular and urban archaeology more generally. The ground-breaking commitment to the archaeology of the eighteenth–twentieth-centuries is particularly important, as Cambridge was one of the key intellectual hubs of the foremost global power for much of the period.

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