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Significant archaeological discovery at construction site

Local residents were recently given the chance to view exciting historical artefacts, after excavations at an Orbit Homes construction site in Haddenham unearthed archaeological evidence dating from the Bronze Age, through to early Anglo-Saxon times.
Significant archaeological discovery made at Orbit Homes construction site in Haddenham 1

The site in Cambridgeshire has been declared a ‘development of significance’ after archaeologists discovered a large number Anglo-Saxon structures, referred to as ‘sunken featured buildings’ or grub-huts, as well as two post-built structures.

The structures were found to be in a good state of preservation and substantial artefactual evidence has been recovered from them. This has included large amounts of pottery, animal bone, decorated loom weights and thatch weights, bone pins, combs, weaving implements, knife blades and items for personal adornment.

Alongside the Anglo-Saxon domestic remains, are items dating back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age, including a large pot which is thought to be older than Stonehenge.

A host of the artifacts, some of which are over 4,000 years old, were put on display for the public to see, before being sent away for further testing and preservation.

Ray Winney, Regional Managing Director at Orbit Homes, said: “The number of finds at Chewells Lane has been truly extraordinary. It’s been an incredible experience for the whole team to watch the archaeologists undertake excavation of the site and see the number of artefacts which have been uncovered, many in an unprecedented condition. We are delighted that the site has now been declared as ‘significant’ and we look forward to better understanding the history and use of the site as excavations come to an end.”

Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, also came to see the historical finds for herself, commenting: “It is an extraordinary feat to discover archaeological evidence here in East Cambridgeshire that dates back as far back as the Bronze Age, approximately 4000 years ago.

“It was fascinating to survey the various items at the site in Haddenham and see what they tell us about our nation’s ancient civilisations. Cambridgeshire has a long and proud history and taking care of our artefacts is one of the ways we can honour that.”

The archaeological excavations were carried out by Britannia Archaeology Ltd and started in October 2022, with site investigations expected to conclude in late Autumn 2023.

Martin Brook, Director of Britannia Archaeology LTD, added: “The archaeological investigations have afforded us a tantalising window into the layout of a settlement in the Saxon period. However, it is clear from the finds assemblage that occupation and domestic activities were occurring at this location for hundreds of years prior to the Saxon inhabitation of the site. The site is now in the final stages of being fully recorded and the artefacts that have been retrieved will be processed, stabilised, and sent for specialist analysis. Eventually the finds will be deposited with a suitable archive or museum.”

Rosina, a member of the public who attended the open day, said: “I was so fascinated by the whole experience. The artefacts have been preserved perfectly. It’s been a wonderful experience; I could spend all day here!”.

After archaeological investigations have concluded, the site will provide a limited collection of 34 two and three-bedroom affordable homes, including 13 shared ownership and 21 affordable rent properties, between 2024 and 2025.

Orbit Homes currently has nine thriving new communities underway in East Anglia, comprising a range of affordable two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, including some rarely available new build bungalows. A mixture of purchasing options is available, including market sale and shared ownership.

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