Excavation at Isleham, Cambridgeshire

On 22nd October over 160 visitors came to see our display, held in partnership with the Isleham Society at the Beeches Community Centre in Isleham, of the results of a small excavation we carried out in the village during May 2016

Anglo-Saxon bone comb from Isleham, Cambridgeshire

The excavation, which has been funded by Cocksedge Building Contractors Ltd, has found evidence for Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval occupation in the vicinity. Roman material such as floor tile, roof tile, box tile and tesserae were residual finds in later deposits but collectively suggest a substantial Roman structure is located in the area. Intensive occupation of the site then probably began in the Middle Saxon period with pottery recovered in fairly high quantities from the fills of ditches and pits. Occupation continued and increased into the Late Saxon period with a series of substantial parallel and perpendicular enclosures, some of which were recut on similar alignments. These enclosures were likely to bound areas designed for animal husbandry and crop cultivation. A series of pits were later backfilled with domestic rubbish including small finds comprising buckles, whittle-knives and fragments of antler comb.

The excavation at Isleham, CambridgeshireAgricultural activity continued on site into the medieval period with new ditches being cut along similar alignments to the earlier field boundary arrangements and evidence was seen for ploughing activity. Boundary ditch re-arrangement is also apparent in the medieval period with evidence of intercutting ditches. Large intercutting storage pits located inside the central enclosure ditch were later reused as receptacles for rubbish, some with multiple fills, including a tip layer of mussel shell and an articulated dog skeleton. Evidence for post-medieval and modern activity was scarce, with a single curvilinear gully and a series of postholes orientated on a similar alignment to current boundaries.

Visitors at the Isleham open day

Visitors to the display got the chance to find about the dig, see some of the finds and meet members of the excavation team. We would like to thank staff at the Beeches and also the Isleham Society for helping to stage the event.