Romano-British burial site unearthed in Fen town

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation, Whittlesey - Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit

Archaeological research on a 16-acre site in the Fens approved for housing, has uncovered a Romano-British burial site from 2,000 years ago.  

Part of the cemetery comprised in excess of 20 burials, with a mix of cremation and inhumations.  

“The cemetery had been in use for a long period of time with evidence of later interments cutting earlier ones,” said a spokesperson for Cambridge Archaeological Unit. 

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years

Bronze Age Barrow. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured a Bronze age dig with Cremation centre - Credit: Terry Harris

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured a Bronze age dig with Cremation centre, , - Credit: Terry Harris

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation, Whittlesey

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation, Whittlesey - Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit

“The cemetery would have been associated with the Roman settlement previously excavated to the west of the current excavations.” 

Archaeologists also unearth an early Bronze Age barrow- a burial monument, mostly used for cremations, and reserved for local dignitaries of the time.  

The spokesperson said the Early Bronze Age barrow was constructed as a single circular ‘ring-ditch’. 

It was surrounded by a central cremation that had been placed within a Collared Urn pottery vessel (2350 - 1600 BC). 

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“And over which a soil mound would have been built and flattened in antiquity,” said the spokesperson. 

Roman Burial site. Childs Grave.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field.

Roman Burial site. Childs Grave. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13 graves as part of a cemetery. - Credit: Terry Harris

Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13

Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13 graves as part of a cemetery. - Credit: Terry Harris

Roman Burial site.
Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Arch

Roman Burial site. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13 graves as part of a cemetery. , , Peterborough Friday 08 April 2022. Picture by Terry Harris. - Credit: Terry Harris

The image released by the Cambridge archaeologists shows the excavation of the ring-ditch in 2m intervals, “while the square in the centre of the image is where the cremation urn was excavated”. 

Cambridgeshire County Council says the area was subject to an archaeological evaluation in 2011 during which evidence of Iron Age settlement and Bronze Age funerary remains were found. 

The council described these earlier finds as being of a of local and regional importance. 

But they felt “construction impacts are deemed able to be mitigated by a suitable archaeological investigation programme that will conserve their significance”. 

Roman Burial site.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field.

Roman Burial site. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13 graves as part of a cemetery. , , P - Credit: Terry Harris

 The original archaeological investigation in 2011 was commissioned by Whiteacre Management Ltd, the property development firm run by March businessman Bruce Smith.  

The work formed part of an earlier application for the site which finally won approval to become a country park, business park and Sainsbury’s supermarket.  

Only after Sainsbury’s pulled out, and an unsuccessful High Court breach of contract was lost, did Mr Smith look for an alternative use for the land. 

Part of the site has now been granted permission for Aldi to build a supermarket and for David Wilson Homes to build 203 homes.

Roman Burial site.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field.

Roman Burial site. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured Archaeologists found 13 graves as part of a cemetery. - Credit: Terry Harris

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field.

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured a Bronze age dig with Cremation centre - Credit: Terry Harris

 

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation, Whittlesey

Part of a Romano-British cemetery, here shown in the early stages of its excavation, Whittlesey - Credit: Cambridge Archaeology Unit

During a field survey in 2011, 372 items were collected including eight fragments of pottery pre-dating the Post-Medieval period.  

But evidence of Early Bronze Age activity and research offered the possibility of some pottery fragments dating back to the Romano-British period.  

One of the conditions to the planning consents now agreed is for suitable recording of all archaeological remains. 

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow.Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years

Pictured - Bronze Age Barrow. Archaeology dig near Peterborough Spans 1000’s of years in 1 field. Pictured a Bronze age dig with Cremation centre, , - Credit: Terry Harris

It is thought up to £400,000 in total has been spent on archaeological research into both the current applications and the previous application which  at the time covered nearly 80 acres.