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Early Neolithic pits, Late Iron Age, Roman and medieval layers and late 17th century quarrying at the former Cambridge Regional College site, Brunswick, Cambridge

Atkins, Robert (2011) Early Neolithic pits, Late Iron Age, Roman and medieval layers and late 17th century quarrying at the former Cambridge Regional College site, Brunswick, Cambridge. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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The Brunswick excavation targeted an area located between 60m and 100m to the south of the River Cam, between 5.5mOD and c.12mOD. The earliest features were a group of up to four earlier prehistoric pits located within a 10m area at c.8mOD. One pit was dated to the Early Neolithic and contained c.200 flint working debitage pieces. Three of these pits produced background evidence for cereal growing. A moderate collection of residual Mesolithic, Neolithic and to a lesser extent Early Bronze Age flint was also found across the site, and flint debitage was concentrated in at least two further areas denoting where other probable flintworking had occurred.
An alluvium, up to 0.6m thick was revealed only within the lower northern 7m of the site and this demarcated the former southern extent of the River Cam, c.70m to the south of the present river position. This alluvium is likely to have occurred during the Late Iron Age and sealed the natural grey clay at c.5.5mOD; no alluvium deposits were found above c.6.10mOD. The flood deposits were sealed by a colluvium layer up to 0.65m thick. The flood deposits of the River Cam and the subsequent hillwash deposits were presumably caused by increased farming in the Late Iron Age/Roman period. It is likely the site was being ploughed in this period as part of a Late Iron Age/Early Roman plough tip was found within the colluvium. Roman occupation may have been fairly close, as a small quantity of coins, metalwork and abraded pottery sherds were recovered. This contrasts with the single residual Saxon pottery sherd indicating little activity in this period.
Sealing the colluvium layer was an extensive medieval deposit traced over a 35m wide area that increased in thickness from 0.25m on the southern side to up to 0.90m thick on the northern side. The excavation area lay within land owned by Barnwell Priory, whose former buildings were situated c.200m to the east. This layer, which was presumably a levelling deposit to raise the ground level so it could be cultivated, extended at least 50m towards the former priory (seen during subsequent construction works) and continued to the west of the excavation area. The layer contained domestic and industrial artefacts presumably originating from the priory buildings and/or domestic secular houses around the priory. The artefacts range in date from the 12th to the 15th or 16th centuries with a peak in the c.13th century. Of particular interest are the remains of metal scrap pieces from smithying and smelting which indicates evidence for rove production and iron bar off-cuts. Iron ore and slag were also found showing raw materials were being imported onto the site.
Quarrying took place in the late 17th century, seemingly contemporary with other quarry pits found 100m to the east during the 2009 evaluation. More recent
activity is represented by levelling layers especially in the Victorian period in addition to more quarrying possibly for coprolites. At the end of the 19th century the site became part of a brewery and a school was established in c.1927.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Chris Faine
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2014 14:16
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 14:16
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/1872

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