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Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire

Clarke, Graeme (2016) Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Between 5th September and 7th October 2016 Oxford Archaeology East (OA East) carried out a trenched evaluation at the former Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Waterbeach. This work was commissioned by Urban & Civic plc on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The evaluation comprised the excavation of 139 trenches that primarily targeted historical aerial photograph and geophysical survey results. The results of these surveys were presented with an archaeological desk-based assessment of the site carried out by OA East in 2016 (Bush 2016).
Prehistoric finds from the evaluation were restricted to the recovery of a few residual worked flints of Early Neolithic date, and a scatter of Late Iron Age pottery. The Iron Age pottery indicates some of the predominantly Roman field boundary systems uncovered may possibly have had an Iron Age origin. Evidence for activity dating to the Roman period was more widespread with three areas (Areas 3, 6 & 8) containing dense concentrations of Roman remains.
An area of extensive Roman settlement was found on the north-western part of the site (Area 3), to the west of the former runway. The trenching revealed ditched boundaries primarily of Mid-Late Roman origin, belonging to a network of enclosures previously recorded from geophysical survey. A pottery kiln and an inhumation burial were revealed within the settlement area. Sets of linear and parallel agricultural furrows were also recorded in the vicinity of this area that may have been contemporary with the settlement. Further features were also revealed within the fields to the north of the former airfield, including field boundaries and concentrated areas of pitting indicative of marl quarrying, that may also date to the Roman period.
A second area of Roman remains suggestive of settlement was also revealed to the east of the former runway (Area 6), in the southern part of the site, which also had previously been indicated by geophysical survey. The main focus of activity was found to comprise a network of ditched boundaries in association with what appeared to be substantial but localised pitting that yielded many Roman artefacts.
A small inhumation cemetery is represented by a cluster of five burials, presumably also of Roman date. To the south of this activity an undated post-built structure extended across one of the trenches with other minor field boundaries revealed in the vicinity that may also represent an area of Roman settlement.
Further north, and to the east of the runway another area of Roman ditched boundaries was uncovered that yielded many Roman artefacts, including quern stones, indicative of settlement activity (Area 8).
Medieval activity was confined to the presence of relict ridge and furrow cultivation which was found to be widespread across the site. Cultivation of the pre-existing fields on the site would have formed part of the local medieval landscape associated with the village of Waterbeach to the south and Denny Abbey to the north.
The trenches in the southern part of Area 6 contained some substantial but poorly dated ditches, with many containing post-medieval drainage pipes, cut into a lower 'dirty' subsoil layer that yielded some post-medieval pottery sherds. The lower subsoil was considered to correspond to a pre-existing marsh, dating to at least the post-medieval period.

Item Type: Client Report
Uncontrolled Keywords: archaeological evaluation, cambridgeshire, waterbeach, roman, settlement, boundary, enclosure, pottery, pottery kiln, inhumation, hsr, burial, field system, furrow, cemetery, medieval, ridge and furrow, ridge-and-furrow, denny abbey
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC > Early Neolithic 4000 - 3000 BC
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Chris Faine
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2017 08:37
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2017 08:37
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/3390

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