12th January 2017:

Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East working at Hatherdene Close at Cherry Hinton in Cambridge have uncovered a wealth of Anglo-Saxon and Roman finds, as well as shed light on the origins of Cherry Hinton itself

The field team, working on behalf of CgMs and Weston Homes, spent three months during the summer on the site next to Cambridge Airport, excavating and recording the archaeology in advance of redevelopment.

Anglo-Saxon jewellery, such as fine brooches, multi-coloured glass and amber beads, rings and hairpins, was recovered alongside more utilitarian tools including small knives and iron shield bosses and spear heads. Some items were recycled, such as a decoration from a shield in the form of a hippogriff (half horse, half eagle), which was re-used as a piece of jewellery, perhaps as a protective symbol or talisman. These items are dated to around the 6th century AD and are associated with a number of burials and a nearby pre-Christian building.

The re-purposed hippogriff from Hatherdene Close, Cambridge

In addition to the metalwork, a number of complete early Anglo-Saxon vessels were found. Perhaps the most stunning find was a rare glass beaker. Known as claw beakers owing to the claw-like decorations around the stem, these elaborate drinking vessels are normally found further south-east in Kent or the area now covered by northern France, the Netherlands and Germany, where they were probably produced. Although crushed over the centuries by the weight of soil above, this vessel is complete and could be reconstructed.

The Anglo-Saxon claw beaker from Hatherdene Close, Cambridge

Of equal archaeological value, the Roman finds, pre-dating the Anglo-Saxon period, included fine pottery vessels and plates from 2nd-century cremations. The archaeologists also uncovered an early Roman pottery kiln and a complex of late Iron Age and Roman ditches that defined a field system.

A Roman-period fine ware beaker from Hatherdene Close, Cambridge

The site fell out of use in the 7th century, but there was another phase of activity in the 8th century or Middle Saxon period; evidence was uncovered for post-built structures, possibly workshops or livestock pens, and pits relating to industrial activity. The site lies on the western edge of the Middle Saxon settlement around Church End, and which formed the 9th-10th century manor. By 1086 it had become known as Hintona in Domesday Book.

The finds are still at an early stage of cleaning, conservation and analysis, so those pictured here are almost as they came out of the ground after 1500 years. The site was unknown until it was evaluated by test trenches in 2007. Developer funding from Weston Homes enabled excavation to take place during 2016.