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Roman, Saxon and Medieval Occupation at the site of the former Red, White and Blue Public House, Chiefs street, Ely

Kenny, S. (2002) Roman, Saxon and Medieval Occupation at the site of the former Red, White and Blue Public House, Chiefs street, Ely. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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In December 1999, the Archaeological Field Unit of Cambridgeshire County Council conducted an archaeological excavation on land at the former Red, White and Blue public house, Chiefs Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire (TL 5356/8042). The work was carried out at the request of Cambridgeshire Housing Association. A watching brief was carried out in 2000 on demolition works and the construction of a new roadway on the site.
Archaeology was found in each of the three open areas excavated, dating to a broad range of periods from Roman to post-medieval. There were also a number of undated pre-Roman features in one corner of the site. A wide variety of feature types were encountered, including post holes, wells, ditches and gullies.
The earliest phase was represented by gullies and pits in the south-west corner of the site. The Roman phase consisted of fence lines of post holes and other boundary features, probably relating to settlement adjacent to the Roman road that ran across the summit of the Ely Island. In the middle Saxon period, pits, wells and an oven were in use on the site, possibly for some small-scale industrial process. Usage of the site changed in Saxo-Norman period, with a large boundary ditch being established on the west of the site, and other ditches and gullies dug elsewhere. A small wooden structure of just four posts was also constructed at this time, as well as a fence. During the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, ditches and a fence line were established parallel and adjacent to the line of Chiefs Street, while the remainder of the site was waste ground with several rubbish pits. After the medieval period, the site continued to be used for the disposal of rubbish until the construction of the first public house.
The environmental evidence shows the changing diet and surroundings of the people who lived nearby, and indicates the extensive exploitation of the nearby claylands. Flax appears for the first time in the Middle Saxon period, while the greatest exploitation of fish happens in Saxo-Norman times. Eels formed a large part of the diet in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, and these were presumably caught locally.
The site has also contributed to the growing understanding of local settlement patterns during the Middle and Late Saxon periods. Along with work carried out recently at the bottom of West Fen Road, at West End and St John's road, this site is helping to shape the picture of pre-Conquest Ely. It now seems likely that there was continuous settlement strung out along West Fen Road from the top of the Island to the fen at the bottom during these periods. this is a very different pattern from the one which has long been accepted, where settlement is nucleated around Etheldrea's monastery somewhere close to the site of the present cathedral.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Early Medieval 410 - 1066 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Depositing User: Archives
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 12:20
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 12:20
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/4202

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