Category Archives: Announcements

Rectory Farm Godmanchester – Publication of the Report

Rectory Farm, Godmanchester – Publication of the Report

A book about the complex multi-period landscape excavated at Rectory Farm, Godmanchester has been published by East Anglian Archaeology. The site includes a Neolithic trapezoidal enclosure of national importance and a scheduled Romano-British villa. For details of the publication go to:   http://eaareports.org.uk/publication/report170/  

Oxford Archaeology East was commissioned by Historic England in 2013 to produce this monograph. The excavations at Rectory Farm, Godmanchester were undertaken between 1988-1995 by Historic England’s (formerly English Heritage) Central Archaeological Service in advance of gravel quarrying. Aerial photography had revealed a Neolithic trapezoidal enclosure of national importance and a scheduled Romano-British villa. The site lies within the valley of the Great Ouse, along which extensive prehistoric landscapes have been the subject of archaeological work for some time. Many of these sites have been excavated by OA East, including the complex of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ceremonial monuments at Brampton.

Copyright Godmanchester Museum

Copyright Godmanchester Museum (www.godmanchester.co.uk)

At Rectory Farm, the earliest activity was a large Early to Middle Neolithic monument consisting of a series of twenty-four large posts arranged with great precision and enclosed by a continuous ditch and internal bank with an ‘entrance’ on one side. A small mound further west evidently served as a viewing point for the trapezoidal enclosure. It is of unusual form and it is of particular interest in terms of its wider setting in a developing monumental landscape. Radiocarbon analysis dates the use of the enclosure to 3685-3365 cal BC (95% probability). This enclosure appears to be unique in the archaeological record and is therefore of national and international significance. The publication contains a major new analysis of its archaeoastronomical significance conducted by Professor Clive Ruggles of University of Leicester. The alignment of the posts with the early May and/or August sunrises suggests that the monument was used as a place for people to gather and mark the changing seasons, and possibly key points of the agricultural cycle.

This part of the Ouse Valley suffered regular flooding throughout the later Bronze and the Early to Middle Iron Age. Once the floodwaters had receded, the prehistoric remains influenced subsequent re-occupation of the landscape.

A Roman villa farm complex developed in three identifiable phases, linked by a road to the Roman town of Durovigutum (Godmanchester). Notable remains included a furnished cremation cemetery, set within a complex of gardens. One of these contained plant and tree species reminiscent of the Mediterranean style, while close to the cemetery and a possible triclinium (a dining area) was a kitchen courtyard garden with nearby bee hives. Three substantial wells nearby contained painted wall plaster, tesserae and a large column capital. The discovery of a finely made cockerel figurine within one of the wells may indicate an association with the god Mercury. By the early 5th century, the buildings were derelict, but although settlement had ceased the land remained in agricultural use until gravel extraction and landfill took place in the late 20th century.

The lead author was Alice Lyons, formerly of OA East. The project was managed by OA East’s Head of Post-Excavation & Publications, Liz Popescu, said “Oxford Archaeology is proud to have brought this major site successfully to publication – the results will undoubtedly be of interest to locals and academics alike.”

Brian Kerr, Head of Archaeological Investigation at Historic England said: “We are delighted to see the publication of a book about this important site, and we congratulate Oxford Archaeology East on the successful completion of the project that we funded. We are grateful to all our colleagues who contributed so much to the fieldwork, including a number of specialist analyses including human and plant remains, geoarchaeology and scientific dating.”

About Oxford Archaeology East:

Oxford Archaeology is one of the largest independent archaeological and heritage practices in Europe, with over 250 specialist staff working out of offices in Oxford, Lancaster and Cambridge. Founded in 1973, we have over 40 years of experience in professional archaeology, and a tradition of quality, innovation and service on projects ranging in scale from domestic extensions to international transport infrastructure. We are a registered educational charity, we help people to discover and enjoy their heritage through our publications and outreach. Across the country, we have welcomed many thousands of visitors to our sites on open days, regularly provide presentations and information panels, and volunteers of all ages have participated in our wide variety of excavation and survey projects that span all periods of human history. For further information, visit our website: www.oxfordarchology.com

Based in Cambridge, Oxford Archaeology East (OA East) operates primarily across the East of England from the Thames to the Humber. It has existed since the 1980s, previously as a local authority in-house contractor and since 2008 as part of Oxford Archaeology delivering commercial services for development projects and community archaeology opportunities.

About Historic England:

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. They protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. They care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists Historic England share their passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

Answers to Quiz in January 2019 Almanack

Here are the answers to the quiz, ‘How Well Do You Know Huntingdonshire’ that was in the January 2019 Almanack:

Where might you find these? What are they?

Picture 1: You can find this in Ramsey Abbey, its a ceiling boss that is on the floor in the Gate House.

 

Picture 2: A Station of the Cross in the grounds of LIttle Gidding Church

 

Picture 3: Milepost at Green End, Great Stukeley

 

 

 

Summer Excursions 2018

This post is just to outline to members the planned excursions for this summer period. The full details and dates of the visits are still being finalised and will be published shortly in the next copy of the  Almanack and will be announced at the AGM on the 17th May. Outline of our visits are as follows:

May (evening) – visit to Alconbury Museum

June (half day) – visit to Westminster College, Cambridge

17th July – Coach trip to Gainsborough Old Hall, Clayworth Church, Stow and possibly tea at Elton

August – trip to visit March Railway Station and Museum

September – visit to Norris Museum and Pugins Little Gem St Ives

Almanack Autumn 2017 available

The ALMANACK, the Newsletter of the Huntingdonshire Local History Society, for the Autumn 2017 period has been published and is available.

Click on the picture on the left to read the Almanack

Copies of the current Almanack and previous copies can be accessed from the Publications Tab.

You can also find out what’s going on through our diary on the right of the page or by visiting the Future Events tab at the top of the page.

Almanack Autumn 2016 Available

almanack-autumn2016001The ALMANACK, the Newsletter of the Huntingdonshire Local History Society, for the Autumn 2016 period has been published and is available.

Click on the picture on the left to access and download the Almanack

Copies of the current Almanack and previous copies can be accessed from the Publications Tab.

2016 May Weekend – Castles of Kent

The 2016 May weekend will be to Kent, with planned visits to a number of castles and gardens. We will depart on the 13th May and return on the 16th May. For full details of the itinerary and to download a copy of the brochure please click on the picture below.

Kent-Weekend001

Kent Weekend Itinerary

Map of the Little Gidding Estate of Sir Gervase Clifton by John Hexham of January 1596/7

Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies has acquired for Huntingdonshire Archives a map of the Little Gidding Estate of Sir Gervase Clifton by John Hexham of January 1596/7. The map was has purchased with equal funding from Central Government (the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund) and the Huntingdonshire Local History Society,

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This map is a magnificent addition to our local archives and the society’s committee was easily persuaded to support its purchase for a number of reasons:

a. It is one of the earliest maps of a Huntingdonshire village, the earliest of a whole parish within the ancient county in local repositories.

b. It is by the one surveyor of the Elizabethan ‘golden age’ of English map-making, John Hexham, who elsewhere calls himself ‘of Huntingdon’, who plainly deserves further research which this map may stimulate.

c. It provides clear cartographic evidence of what existed of Little Gidding village, a shrunken settlement that has been categorised by landscape historians as a ‘deserted medieval village (DMV)’ in 1597.

d. It shows the village, and the manor house itself in elevation, as it existed during the lifetime of Nicholas Ferrar, just 27 years before Ferrar purchased the estate and arrived to make it the centre of his extraordinary if short-lived religious community.

e. Little Gidding has iconic status in our national history thanks to the visit of the poet T.S. Eliot, who made it the subject of the best-known of his Four Quartets.

To celebrate the acquisition Huntingdonshire Archives has mounted a display about the map in Huntingdon Library which lasts until the end of September. I encourage you to go. The society’s assistance is prominently and properly acknowledged there. There will also be a privileged opportunity for members to see the original map at close quarters when it will be brought to a society meeting, probably the society’s AGM next May. Further details will be circulated in due course.

Philip Saunders
Chairman, Huntingdonshire Local History Society