Iron Age activity at Wintringham Park

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Excavations at Wintringham Park, Cambridgeshire, have revealed evidence of ongoing occupation at the site throughout much of the late Iron Age. Located on clayland to the east of St Neots, above the Ouse Valley, the site offers a significant opportunity to enhance our understanding of this region in later prehistory.

Oxford Archaeology East are in the process of uncovering a sequence of Iron Age occupation at Wintringham Park. [Image: Oxford Archaeology]

The first phase of excavation, covering an area of 12ha, is currently being carried out by Oxford Archaeology East and has already revealed echoes of activity stretching from c.350 BC to the mid-1st century AD. The Iron Age settlement sits on top of a small hill and has two foci: to the west, a series of small enclosures coming off a boundary ditch which runs along the crest of the hill, and in the eastern part of the site, two large, sub-rectangular enclosures which contain a series of structures, pits, post-holes, and waterholes.

The outlines of at least 17 Iron Age roundhouses have been identified across the site, surviving to different degrees and representing successive stages in an ongoing sequence of development. Three four-post ‘granary’ structures have also been uncovered, along with pottery which confirms that occupation at the site spanned c.400 years. This is reflected in a complex network of overlapping ditches and features: the result of enclosures and structures being expanded, modified, and reworked over time.

Some possible evidence of earlier activity has also been discovered in the form of fragments of a series of linear boundaries, which may be part of a Bronze Age field boundary underneath the Iron Age boundary ditch in the west of the site, although their date is still uncertain. Early Roman agricultural features, including cultivation ditches and an enclosure, probably dating to the 1st century AD, have also been found on the slopes of the hill – however, there is no sign of occupation in this period, indicating that settlement at the site ceased after the Iron Age.

More work will be carried out on the site over the next few years, but the recent discoveries contribute to an emerging picture of a landscape densely populated by interconnected farmsteads, continuously changing and developing throughout the late Iron Age.

This news article appears in issue 367 of Current Archaeology. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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