Archaeologists look back at 8,000 finds, seven tonnes of pottery, and 300 burials as first phase of A14 dig comes to close

PUBLISHED: 08:13 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 08 October 2018

A wood-lined well. Picture: MOLA Headland

A wood-lined well. Picture: MOLA Headland

Archant

The first phase of archaeology work on the A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge upgrade is drawing to close after two years of excavations, spanning 850 acres.

An elm-built timber structure. Picture: MOLA HeadlandAn elm-built timber structure. Picture: MOLA Headland

Mola Headland Infrastructure, working on behalf of Highways England, said it had carried out 40 separate excavations since archaeology work started in 2016 and had collected finds spanning 6,000 years of history.

With work now drawing to a close, archaeologists move to the next phase of the project, which will see them attempt to collate thousands of finds.

According to the Department for Transport, the works have cost more than £40million to date, with up to £5million allocated to complete the post-dig work.

Among the leading finds on the dig were: Three Neolithic henge monuments, seven prehistoric burial grounds, 15 Iron Age (c. 800 BC-AD 43) and/or Roman (AD 43-410) settlements, 40 Roman pottery kilns, three Anglo-Saxon settlements (5th to 8th century AD), a deserted medieval village occupied from 8th to 12th century, and two post-medieval brick kilns.

Iron Age cooking pits. Picture: MOLA HeadlandIron Age cooking pits. Picture: MOLA Headland

According to Mola Headland, some seven tonnes of pottery and about 8,000 registered finds (objects such as coins, brooches, ironwork etc) have been recovered. Almost five tonnes of animal bone, about 7,000 environmental samples and more than 300 human burials (inhumation and cremation) of all periods have also been discovered.

A spokesman for Mola Headland said: “All of this material is of crucial importance for our understanding of the archaeology. Analysis will help us to consider matters such as how people lived, what they ate, how their economies and societies worked and how they organised their spiritual lives.

“Wider questions will also be considered, for example, what was the impact of the Roman conquest and how did the landscape change after the collapse of Roman administration?”

A team of more than 30 specialists engaged in recording and analysis, in addition to many other professional staff working on site phasing and illustrations, will now work to catalogue and properly record all of the finds and data.

A Roman pond. Picture: MOLA Headland A Roman pond. Picture: MOLA Headland

The spokesman added: “We are just at the start of the post-excavation phase, and over the next year we will be undertaking an assessment to understand the nature of the archaeology and its potential to address research and outreach aims.”

“This will be followed by a three-year programme of analysis, leading to multiple outputs, including research-driven academic books, books aimed at wider audiences and a range of digital media and other resources.”

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