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The Great Fen Project: An Archaeological Desk-based Assessment

Casa-Hatton, Rebecca (2002) The Great Fen Project: An Archaeological Desk-based Assessment. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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The Great Fen Project is a long-term partnership project including English Nature, the Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trust. It aims to restore over 3000 hectares of Fenland habitat to Huntingdonshire between Huntingdon and Peterborough. In doing so it will create a very large site with conservation benefits for wildlife and socio-economic benefits for people.
The project area extends across the parishes of Woodwalton and Holme. It also comprises the eastermost portions of the parishes of Conington, Denton and Stilton, together with the southern part of Yaxley, between NGR 2300/9200 and 2200/8200.
Based on the comprehensive assessment of the available sources, this study attempts to define the archaeological potential of an area of Fen to the north of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. It also offers recommendations for future archaeological work.
To date, there is scant record of pre-medieval activity in the study area. Early prehistoric and Roman finds have been few, and their distribution suggests that occupation occurred on the uplands surrounding the fen basin.

Although unsuitable for permanent occupation, the fen was an attractive source of food and natural resources.
During the early Mesolithic the present fen basin was dry land drained by a series of rivers flowing out into a major outlet through the Wash.
Scatters of worked flint as early as Neolithic period and spanning throughout the Bronze Age may indicate working sites identifiable through disturbed deposits in the modern plough soil. Bronze Age artefacts are also known from the area.
Prehistoric remains include wooden trackways which cross the Woodwalton fen.
During the Roman period the high boulder clay was well settled. Finds from Whittlesey Mere may indicate some degree of water-management.
Saxon remains are unknown from the region, despite a reference to Glatton Manor in the Domesday survey, possible toponomatic reference to a Saxon Hide and the remains of Cnute's Dyke.
Evidence of medieval activity survives as extant earthworks and cropmarks (i.e. ridge and furrow) on the higher ground, and as remains fisheries along the side of Whittlesey mere.
Medieval and Post-medieval remains are primarily linked with drainage works. Lodes, wind pumps and drainage mills are known from cartographic evidence and, in many cases still survive as extant remains.
The study area is presently arable, except for the two reserves. Archaeological features and deposits are likely to have been severely affected by drainage, land reclamation and the conversion of pasture into arable from the post-medieval periods to the present times.
Although Roman and Medieval occupation occurred on the higher ground and is, therefore, least likely to be affected by the proposed wetland restoration project, re-wetting of the Holme-Woodwalton fen may impact on unknown archaeological deposits by destabilised environmental conditions.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Mesolithic 10,000 - 4,000 BC
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Depositing User: Archives
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 11:21
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 11:25
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/4222

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