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Wyng Gardens, Thompsons Lane, Cambridge. An Archaeological Excavation

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Archaeological excavations by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit at WYNG Gardens (formerly St. Clement’s Gardens), Thompson’s Lane, Cambridge, on behalf of Trinity Hall between February and September 2015 revealed several phases of past activity. A Middle/Late Bronze Age–Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age palaeochannel of the river Cam dated by dendrochronology had good waterlogged preservation, but negligible evidence of human activity. This was followed by alluvial flood deposits dated to the Middle–Late Iron Age, again with relatively little evidence for a human presence in the immediate vicinity. Three phases of Romano-British activity, spanning the late 1st to mid/late 4th centuries, included the rear boundary of the lower town/suburban settlement fronting onto Bridge Street, waterside activity and an area of inhumation burials. After a further period marked by natural alluviation the area was reclaimed in the 11th–12th centuries, probably linked to the enclosure of the area by the King’s Ditch in the mid-12th century. During the 13th–15th centuries there is relatively sparse evidence for activity, the area was probably part of the garden or curtilage meadow of a property with its main occupational focus to the west. Occupation increased markedly in the 16th century, when the area was sub-divided into nine plots, probably after St. John’s College acquired the site in 1533. There is evidence for communal facilities shared between the plots, including a stone-lined cesspit and a well. Later there was further investment in the early/mid-17th century, with the construction of a new communal well and privy, plus an associated drain. In the 1791–95 the area was converted into a garden and later in 1911 a terrace of buildings was constructed. Significant finds, some of which are probably linked to the sites location close to the river Cam, include a Samian sherd with graffiti, an atypically high proportion of Stamford ware in the 11th–12th century assemblage, a rare 13th century imported Saintonge ware pitcher, significant quantities of limestone in 16th century contexts that probably represents material used as ballast, a stone with an incised coat of arms ‘trial piece’ and ceramic assemblages of the 1790s. The alluvial sequence, which spans c. 2500–3000 years from the Middle/Late Bronze Age to the 12th century AD, allowed various forms of analysis of long-term patterns to be undertaken including plant remains, pollen and X-ray fluorescence.



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Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

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