Cambridge dig unearths history from Bronze Age to World War II

Skeleton discovered in Cambridge Skeletons, some without their skulls, were discovered during the dig

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An archaeological dig in Cambridge has revealed the site's history from the Bronze Age to its role in World War II.

Excavation of the site in the north-west of the city began in October, ahead of a large-scale University of Cambridge development.

Roman roads and World War II practice trenches were amongst the discoveries.

Christopher Evans of Cambridge Archaeological Unit said: "Something that is going to be vibrant in the future was also vibrant in the past."

Archaeologists believe the site was first colonised for settlement in the Bronze Age and subsequently saw an Iron Age settlement.

'Surprise find'

Bronze Age Britain

  • In about 2,000 BC, travellers from Europe began arriving in Britain with tools and weapons made from a previously unknown material - bronze
  • True bronze is a combination of 10% tin and 90% copper - both of which could be found in Britain
  • It meant these tools and weapons could be produced and traded across the island
  • The Bronze Age lasted about 1,500 years and also saw the introduction of textile production and more widespread agriculture

Source: BBC History

Mr Evans said the dig was the one of the largest excavations to have taken place in Cambridgeshire and had unearthed a "thriving" Roman settlement, from around 60-350AD.

"The site is 1,200m long, it's covering 14 hectares," Mr Evans said.

"We're investigating this great gravel ridge and finding dense Roman settlement almost continuously along the length of it."

Four Roman cemeteries and 25 human skeletons, some with their skulls missing, have been discovered along with thousands of other remains.

Archaeologists said it was a surprise to find the zigzag ditches thought to be part of Cambridge's defence preparations for the war.

Mr Evans said: "It all testifies that things change and that archaeology often erodes long-held landscape stereotypes.

"It's part of what makes fieldwork so exciting."

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