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Archaeological Investigations at Jesus College, Cambridge



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Evans, Christopher 


Anticipating the construction of a Library and Computing Centre, in July, 1992, the C.A.U. was commissioned by Jesus College to undertake an archaeological field assessment. Situated within the College grounds south of the Chapel, the site is set back from Jesus Lane by c. 5 - 12m (TL 5425/5882). It presently falls within the area of a temporary yard and extends west for 3 - 11m into the Master's Garden. On its eastern side the builder's y a r d is bounded b y a listed brick wall. Thought in part to be of 16/17th century date, it will be demolished should the proposed development proceed. The new building will encroach west into the paved passageway on the other side of the wall, where unfortunately it was impractical to excavate at this time (fig. 1). In response to the development proposals the field assessment was Undertaken with three major aims. Firstly, to investigate the presence/absence, 'character', degree of preservation and chronological range of archaeological deposits. Secondly, in relationship to Richmond's recent proposal that the nuns' cemetery might lie adjacent to the southern side of the Chapel axial opposite the cloister (instead of as usually thought its north side; 1992: 3 - 4), the issue of whether graves extend into this area was also a priority. Finally, the listed brick all was investigated in order to more firmly establish its date and determine the construction of its foundation (e.g. the potential re-use of Medieval moulded building stone in its fabric). As the fieldwork progressed a more general research objective arose. That is, the fact that this site has witnessed the succession of a nunnery by a (Medieval) college, each circumscribed and largely gender-exclusive communities. Given the pressures of time and budgetary restraints, we were unable to re-direct the excavations in such a way so as to satisfactorily address this issue - that must await future investigations. Nevertheless, awareness of it influenced h ow the site was conceptualised and eventually interpreted (see concluding Discussion).



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Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

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