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North West Cambridge Archaeology. University of Cambridge. 2013-14 Excavation Site IX. (NWC Report No. 6)

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Excavations between April and June 2014 covering 0.47 ha. undertaken as part of the archaeological investigations in advance of the North West Cambridge development revealed remains of a medieval rural settlement, which can be identified as the document settlement of Howes. Occupation began c. 1150-1210 and consisted of a series of square or sub-square ditched enclosures fronting onto Huntingdon Road. The settlement appears to have increased in size gradually until around the mid/late 14th century, before declining from the early/mid-15th century onwards. Occupation ceased in the early/mid-16th century, although agricultural activity continued and the site was later occupied by the University Farm in the early 20th century. The archaeological evidence is atypical of medieval rural settlements in South Cambridgeshire in a number of respects. The settlement occupies an unusual location, at a point in the landscape where four parishes meet, and is a late addition to the medieval settlement pattern. The ceramics are dominated by Huntingdonshire Fen Sandy ware, which is not usually found in significant quantities in and around Cambridge, and there is an atypical preponderance of mussel shells compared to oyster shell. The animal bone assemblage is dominated by horse, with signs of butchery and carnivore gnawing suggesting that it may have been fed to dogs. It is possible that some of the atypical elements of the site relate to Howes as a roadside settlement potentially playing a specialised role with regard to travellers. Alternatively the horse bone may relate to a kennel or similar establishment, as documentary sources attest to hunting in the immediate vicinity.



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Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

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