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Middle Iron Age Settlement at Highfields Caldecote, Cambridgeshire

Blackbourn, Kathryn (2019) Middle Iron Age Settlement at Highfields Caldecote, Cambridgeshire. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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From the 4th July to 6th September 2018 Oxford Archaeology East undertook an archaeological excavation of 1.05ha at land east of Highfields Road, Highfields Caldecote, Cambridgeshire (TL 3558 5918). The excavation revealed part of a Middle Iron Age farmstead, a Late Iron Age to Early Roman surfaced track and several associated ditches, all cut by a series of medieval to post-medieval furrows.
Three sub-phases of the Middle Iron Age farmstead's development were identified based largely on stratigraphic relationships and but also supported by radiocarbon dates retrieved from six of the associated features. The farmstead originated as an unenclosed settlement represented by the remains of three roundhouses. A large boundary ditch was subsequently laid out that cut across the earlier features and which was maintained and re-cut a number of times. It was during this second sub-phase that the farmstead flourished, represented by several roundhouses, smaller boundary ditches, a four-post structure, hearths and pits arranged on both sides of the main boundary ditch. A final phase of reorganisation was indicated by the establishment of a new roundhouse within the main area of settlement, to the north of which was a narrow sinuous ditch that cut along the route of the infilled boundary ditch. In this phase, a separate sub-rectangular enclosure was also created in the south-west corner of the site, which enclosed the partial remains of another roundhouse.
Many of the features yielded finds, notably a well-stratified assemblage of Middle Iron Age pottery. The assemblage was, however, characteristically similar throughout all three phases of Middle Iron Age activity and could not be relied upon for more precise dating. The six radiocarbon dates retrieved from the site spanned 375-50 cal BC with four of the six dating to 375-200 cal BC, indicating that activity started here within the first half of the Middle Iron Age, with ceramic evidence indicating that this was around 350BC. Other finds were recovered, including animal bone, burnt and worked stone, fired clay and metalworking debris indicative of specific activities taking place within and nearby to the farmstead. Although the preservation of plant remains from bulk samples was poor, the low levels of pollen retrieved from samples are indicative of an open grassy landscape used for grazing animals.
The settlement focus seems to have shifted elsewhere in the Late Iron Age to Early Roman period as only a very small quantity of finds of this date were present, largely within the uppermost fills of some of the Middle Iron Age features. A small quantity of Early Roman pottery was, however, recovered from a trackway and associated ditches that cut across the earlier features. This trackway presumably once linked with neighbouring farmsteads and, through the road network, larger settlements of this date within the area.
The claylands around Caldecote were clearly extensively settled and farmed during the Iron Age (and Roman) periods, and this excavation makes a valuable contribution to this growing corpus of sites, especially as its chronology is underpinned by radiocarbon dating.

Item Type: Client Report
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cambridgeshire, cambridgeshire, Caldecote, caldecote, Highfields, highfields, Excavation, excavation, archaeological excavation, full report, Iron Age, iron age, Middle Iron Age, middle iron age, Roman roman, Medieval, medieval, Pottery, pottery, pot, ceramic, sherd, vessel, Iron Age pottery, iron age pottery, Middle Iron Age pottery, middle iron age pottery, Roman pottery, roman pottery, settlement, structure, round house, roundhouse, Iron Age round house, Iron Age roundhouse, iron age round house, iron age roundhouse, Trackway, Roman trackway, roman trackway, Iron Age settlement, iron age settlement, Middle Iron Age settlement, middle iron age settlement, pollen sample, ecofact, ecofacts, animal remains, animal bone, animal bones, bones, bone, enclosure, Iron Age enclosure, iron age enclosure, brooch, La Tene brooch, burnt stone, saddle quern, saddlequern, domestic, domestic activity, furrow, furrows, medieval furrows, medieval ridge and furrow, 2316, report 2316, Report 2316, OAE report 2316, Neolithic, neolithic, lithic implement, axehead, neolithic axehead, Neolithic axehead
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD > Late Iron Age 100 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD > Middle Iron Age 400 - 100 BC
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Hamilton
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 09:32
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2021 12:08
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/6007

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