From Roman Villa to Saxo-Norman Village: An Archaeological Evaluation at The Cedars, Castor

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This report presents the results of an archaeological evaluation in the orchard/back garden attached to Cedar House which lies at the centre of the historic village of Castor (TL 1239 9853). Situated within a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM 93), the area around the Church of St. Kyneburgh is famous for its Roman and Saxon remains. The fieldwork followed a geophysical survey and a desk-based assessment which included a summary of previous work in the area. The project was conducted on behalf of the Castor Parochial Church Council in advance of a proposed construction of a Church Benefice Centre and associated groundworks. The archaeological evaluation of the Cedars has demonstrated an excellent, more or less continuous stratigraphic sequence for the Roman and Saxon periods, one not seemingly encountered elsewhere in Castor . The remains of floors and walls uncovered at the Cedars undoubtedly belong to a substantial building, the main outer walls being nearly 2m thick; moreover, its association is clearly with the villa complex known since the early nineteenth century. The re-use of the Roman building in the early Saxon period is demonstrative of continuity; there is no evidence of major destruction or demolition at this point, rather the shell of the building may have been incorporated within or remodelled with a timber post structure. All the features associated with Middle Saxon activity on the site appear to be related to wall/stone robbing. The first firm evidence of re-occupation at the Cedars recurs in the late Saxon/Saxo-Norman period and indeed this may have followed on fairly soon after the robbing. The re-occupation here is in the form of a substantial timber building with prepared floor and hearth dating to sometime after the mid-9th century and probably no later than the 11th century.

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