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Archaeological Excavations of an Iron Age Settlement and Romano-British Enclosures at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Post Excavation Assessment report.

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Hinman, Mark 


Little Thetford is a small village located approximately 4km to the south of Ely on the west bank of the River Great Ouse. The village is irregularly bounded on its south and east sides by the Thetford Catchwater drain separating the meres and commons on the south and east sides of Little Thetford and Stretham. The old core of the Medieval village is centred around St. George's Church. Dwellings on the north side of Main Street still exhibit the long narrow tofts, stretching northward to Thetford Catchwater. Housing development in the 1960s at New Close Road - which borders the development area to the north - will have substantially removed much of the known, and presently conjectured, archaeological sites in this location. Between July and September 1995 archaeological excavations were carried out in advance of residential development by Persimmon Homes in a field to the west of Watson's Lane in Little Thetford (TL 5277 7625). The field had well-preserved ridge and furrow earthworks from a Medieval and Post-Medieval agricultural system (SMR 09873) and was situated at an elevation of c. 6m OD, on the eastern slope of a small knoll - part of the broken, narrow peninsula of high land extending northwards toward Ely at the junction of Jurassic Kimmeridge and Boulder clays. Prior to this, two earlier phases of archaeological work had been completed: a preliminary desk-top assessment and a field evaluation. The first phase collated documentary and aerial photographic evidence, supplemented by an earthwork survey of the ridge-and-furrow and found that although no archaeology was known from the site, its potential presence and more significantly, survival (due to the protective cover of a well-preserved former ploughsoil) was high. The subsequent Phase 2 field evaluation proved this to be the case when trial trenching turned up a concentration of features in the western part of the field indicating a substantial settlement dating to the later Iron Age and continuing into the Roman period. In accordance with the CAO brief and CAU's project design specification, a geophysical survey was undertaken in February 1995 in order to clarify the extent of the settlement (fig.3). The results of the survey indicated dense archaeological remains across the northern part of the development area, the core of which - an area approximately 4000 square metres - was machine stripped prior to excavation. The exposed area revealed a considerable quantity of archaeological features including ring-gullies, ditches, pits and post-holes as well as a kiln and inhumation burials.



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Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

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