Archaeologists uncover prehistoric graves and human remains at East Cambs building site

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 November 2020

Prehistoric graves and human remains were uncovered by archaeologists on the Regal Lane/Blackberry Lane building site in Soham next to the A142 before construction work can take place. Picture: ORBIT

Prehistoric graves and human remains were uncovered by archaeologists on the Regal Lane/Blackberry Lane building site in Soham next to the A142 before construction work can take place. Picture: ORBIT

Archant

Two prehistoric graves dating back to the Bronze Age, as well as human remains, have been uncovered at an East Cambridgeshire building site.

Prehistoric graves and human remains were uncovered by archaeologists on the Regal Lane/Blackberry Lane building site in Soham next to the A142 before construction work can take place. Here, the grave of a man from the Bronze Age is unearthed. Picture: ORBITPrehistoric graves and human remains were uncovered by archaeologists on the Regal Lane/Blackberry Lane building site in Soham next to the A142 before construction work can take place. Here, the grave of a man from the Bronze Age is unearthed. Picture: ORBIT

In February 2019, Orbit Homes secured planning permission to build 149 homes on land between Regal Lane/Blackberry Lane and the A142 in Soham.

As part of the predevelopment programme, Orbit homes needed to carry out specialist archaeological work before construction begin, and an excavation of the area revealed some fascinating findings.

The excavation, undertaken by Albion Archaeology, included two human graves which contained the skeleton of an elderly woman who had arthritis in her shoulder and lost most of her teeth, while the other was a middle-aged man with a bad back.

David Ingham, project manager at Albion Archaeology, said: “Two human burials were found in graves and these are currently thought to be Bronze Age, but radiocarbon testing will confirm this.

“No trace was found of any Iron Age houses, though the remains of two timber structures were identified, which could have been small granaries.”

The dig also uncovered pottery, animal and plant remains, as well as evidence of Roman ditches, with most Anglo-Saxon activity on the site was largely represented by a concentration of pits in the western half of the area.

However, Mr Ingham said there was no evidence of a Roman settlement within the site.

He said: “The identified remains may have formed part of a much wider landscape in which people and animals moved from pasture to pasture over relatively large distances.”

MORE: Archaeological dig uncovers Anglesey Abbey’s past

The first settlement on the field dates back to the Iron Age, but earlier signs of activity have been discovered which are thought to go back to as far as 2,500 BC.

Ian Fieldhouse, land and new business director for Orbit Homes in the East, added: “Around half of the six-hectare site has been excavated with further investigations taking place in December.

“Once all the data has been collated, we can continue with construction in March 2021.

“It has been a really interesting exercise; it was fascinating to learn that the findings date back to prehistoric times.”

Once building construction work begins on the homes, where 41 will be made affordable, show homes are then due to open in Autumn 2021.

You may also want to watch:


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ely Standard. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ely Standard