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Astrazeneca New Cambridge Site, Volume I: Post-Excavation Assessment

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Tabor, Jonathon 


Archaeological investigations were undertaken by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) at AstraZeneca’s New Cambridge Site (NCS) at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge. Work was carried out over the course of eight months between July 2014 and early March 2015 and comprised excavations in two separate development areas, the South Plot and the North Plot. An area totalling 4.94ha was stripped revealing archaeology ranging in date from the Early Neolithic through to the late Roman period and dominated by settlement remains dating to the Middle Bronze Age (South Plot) and the 1st-4th centuries AD (North Plot). The main focus of the excavation within the South Plot was a series of Middle Bronze Age enclosures identified previously through aerial photographs, geophysics and trial trenching. Three main phases of Middle Bronze Age activity were recorded, these comprised i) an ‘early’ field system ii) a series of three multi-ditched enclosures with associated settlement activity and iii) two ‘late’ boundary ditches. The three settlement enclosures (Enclosures A-C) clearly represent significant Middle BronzeAge occupation and excavations yielded substantial finds assemblages including important assemblages of pottery and animal bone; other finds included bronze metalwork, worked bone and human remains. The enclosures and settlement remains represent an important archaeological site, which when considered alongside other contemporary sites in the area (eg. Clay Farm and the Laboratory for Molecular Biology Site), forms part of an important and extensive prehistoric landscape. Evidence of Early and Middle Iron Age activity was also recorded on the South Plot in the form of an Early Iron Age watering hole and Middle Iron Age settlement remains. The Early Iron Age watering hole yielded finds including pottery and animal bone and was associated with a number of smaller pits and a spread of burnt stone. The Middle Iron Age features included seven distinct pit groups – one of which formed a ‘pit alignment’ orientated on an earlier Middle Bronze Age boundary ditch – and a roundhouse gully. Interestingly, part of the Middle Iron Age settlement was apparently deliberately located within the remnant earthworks of Middle Bronze Age Enclosure A. The North Plot’s archaeology comprised a dense pattern of boundary ditches and enclosures interspersed with 1st-4th century settlement features including structural remains, wells and pits. The archaeology can be divided broadly into i) features associated with an ‘early’ grid-like system of ditches potentially dating to the late 1st- 2nd century, and ii) those associated with a ‘later’ series of enclosures dating to the 2nd-4th centuries. Two cemeteries were also excavated; the first comprised three 1st- 2nd century cremation burials in the west of the site, while the second contained five 4th century inhumation burials in the east. The site yielded substantial finds assemblages including pottery, animal bone, worked stone, metalwork and a total of 78 Roman coins.



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Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

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