An archaeological excavation was undertaken by Suffolk Archaeology CIC from the 4th to the 26th May 2016, on land to the northeast of 1 Ellwoods Close, Isleham, Cambridgeshire. The excavation was undertaken ahead of the construction of two residential properties on a vacant plot of land, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon activity having previously been identified by trail trench evaluation.
Residual Romano-British finds, comprising re-used ceramic building material including floor tile, roof tile, box tile and tesserae, located in the fills of Mid-Saxon to medieval features, collectively suggest a substantial Roman structure is located in the vicinity. Intensive occupation of the site 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.
Agricultural activity continued into the medieval period with new ditches being cut along similar alignments to the earlier field boundary arrangements and evidence of ploughing was further witnessed. 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 series of postholes orientated on a similar alignment to the current boundary configuration and a single curvilinear gully present.
This report comprises an assessment and quantification of the site archive and considers its significance and potential to address regional research objectives. The site is of local and possibly regional significance, further analysis has strong potential for increasing our understanding of the local and regional utilisation of fen-edge agricultural settlement from the Middle Saxon to medieval periods. The report includes an updated project design for the completion of an analytical report, publication summary and archive deposition.