Friday, 16 June 2017

The End of an Excavation

The Wests’ Garage excavation has come to an end and it’s time to say farewell for now! It really has been an exciting site to be involved in. We began our excavation with a major focus on discovering the relationship of this site to the medieval priory and how the settlement of Barnwell developed into the wider city of Cambridge.

 While we found obvious evidence of post-medieval occupation, including brick and chalk walled buildings and wells which demonstrate the occupation of the area, there was less evidence of medieval occupation. Previously excavated sites across Newmarket Road had demonstrated many more signs of medieval occupation associated with the village of Barnwell, including boundary ditches and evidence of small scale farming etc. The minimal evidence we have found for the period may suggest our excavation area is located on south-eastern edge of the priory lands, possibly bounded by medieval versions of Newmarket Road and River Lane. The priory lands would have been for exclusive use of the priory occupants during medieval period which could account for the lack of medieval evidence on our site. It is likely the type of use for the this part of the priory land would have had limited archaeological impact on the ground, possibly used for agriculture or grazing of livestock, leaving little evidence for us to find.    

What we do know, is that this area was occupied in the early 19th century and possibly earlier, which we will learn through in depth analysis of our finds. With people drawn here by the popular Stourbridge Fair and the expansion of the city into new areas from light industry and housing, the site has altered greatly from the medieval period to the modern day. And I’m sure it will continue to be altered in the future, as Cambridge continues to evolve.

Throughout the almost three months of excavation on Wests’ Garage we have learnt a lot about the way of life in this area of post-medieval Cambridge. As we study the records we have made, clean and assess the finds recovered we will continue to learn about the site and development greater understanding of the site and its immediate setting.

Many thanks to Robby, Gary, Antonio, Stuart, Davis, Julie, Ana, Josh, Jon, Dave, Judyte, Tom, Laura, Hannah, Hanna, Ryszard, Richard, Sote, Benjamin, Ergia, Carina, Jaime, Laura, Tom, Britny and everyone in the office for everything you have put into and have gotten out of this excavation. See you all on the next one!

That’s me signing off - thanks for reading!

- Britny at PCA

As the site director, I would like to extend my thanks to the excavation team listed above, with a special thank you to Britny for writing this informative and interesting blog. I would also like to thank the many partners involved in the project making the excavation a success, CgMs, Watkins and Jones and Andy Thomas of the Cambridge County Council.

- Jonathan House

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