HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Cambridgeshire HER Result
Cambridgeshire HERPrintable version | About Cambridgeshire HER

CHER Number:10912
Type of record:Monument
Name:Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery, Queens Way, Oakington

Summary

Rescue excavations recovered Saxon inhumations and grave goods. Further excavations 2010-2012 revealed more Anglo-Saxon burials and finds.

Grid Reference:TL 415 645
Parish:Oakington and Westwick, South Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Associated Finds:

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • CHATELAINE (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • COMB (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • GIRDLE HANGER (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • SHERD (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • ANNULAR BROOCH (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • BAG (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • CHAIN (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • CRUCIFORM BROOCH (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • DISC BROOCH (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • KNIFE (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • NAIL (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • PIN (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SHIELD (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SLEEVE CLASP (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SMALL LONG BROOCH (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SPEAR (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • SQUARE HEADED BROOCH (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)
  • STRAP END (Early Saxon - 501 AD to 600 AD)

Associated Events:

  • Salvage excavation, Oakington Recreation Ground, 1993 (Ref: OAK QW 93)
  • Excavation at Oakington Recreation Ground, 1994
  • Excavation of Oakington Anglo-Saxon cemetery, 2010-2012

Full description

1. Excavations for swings, etc, adjacent to Queens Way, revealed human bones, which the police reported to Alison Taylor. A hole 7m square had been dug by machine to 30cm, within which a hole 3,5m square had been excavated to 1m. At 30cm, where topsoil changed to yellow gravelly clay subsoil, bones were visible, though the grave cut was very difficult to detect. Skull and annular brooch had already been broken and removed by police. Rest of skeleton proved to be flexed body of woman with small long brooch and bronze buckle in very good condition. Site sketch on reverse of PRC.

2. Following the above discovery, a rescue excavation was undertaken by Cambs Archaeology. During machine trenching three more skeletons aligned SW to NE were discovered. Two were disturbed during machine excavation of the northern L-shaped trench, the third was partially exposed in the southern L-shaped trench, recorded and covered before cementing the foundation for the swing. The three skeletons appeared to be adults, although they had only been partially uncovered. Part of an Anglo-Saxon pot was discovered during excavation of the northern burial but no other finds were recovered. Remains collected from spoil heaps indicate the destruction of at least three other burials.

3. Following discovery of an Anglo-Saxon grave in 1993, a larger part of the cemetery was investigated before further earth disturbance in 1994. There were 24 burials (including those found in 1993), of which nine were children, eight female, five male, and two too fragmentary for identification. An unusual number of females and children were accompanied by grave goods, giving overall totals of 78 beads (65 amber, 11 glass, 2 silver on glass), 20 brooches (5 annular, 1 applied disc, 4 cruciform, 1 disc, 8 small-long, 1 great square-headed), 11 knives, 1 ivory bag ring, 1 spear, 2 shield bosses, 3 buckles, 4 pins, 1 spindle whorl, 4 pairs of wrist clasps and 3 keys. Eleven graves had large potsherds or almost complete pots and two contained sheep bones, apparently deposited as grave-goods. One of the burials, a girl in early teens, was accompanied by 47 amber beads, 2 small-long brooches, 2 buckles an ivory bag ring with three keys, a small ivory ring, iron chain, copper alloy belt end and sheep bones. Another young girl, about 11 years old, was buried with the gilded great square-headed brooch with a detached catch-plate, 2 bone pins and one iron nail. All graves appear to fall within the sixth century.
See RN 05270 - ? AS skeletons found nearby

4. Part of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery was excavated within the medieval village of Oakington. In total, 26 burials were found, including one urned cremation and one double grave. The survival of human bone was generally good, although several graves had been disturbed by later features. Most burials were accompanied by grave-goods, though some of these were very humble. They included 18 brooches, about 90 beads, 7 buckles, 1 ivory bag-ring, 10 knives, 3 latch lifters, 6 pins of bone, copper alloy or iron, a Roman coin, 1 spear, 2 shield bosses, 2 strap-ends, 1 pair of tweezers, and 2 sets of wrist-clasps. Apart from one almost complete pot, 9 graves contained sherds that appear to have been deliberately deposited, usually on the shoulder or by the pelvis, and 4 graves had animal (meat) bones placed as grave-goods. Study of the skeletal remains demonstrated a tall and generally healthy population which nonetheless suffered periods of famine and was accostomed to a life of constant hard physical work. All grave-goods were of 6th century date. Early prehistoric ditches preceded use of the land for a cemetery. In the early medieval period the site lay on the western side of Oakington village, adjacent to the main road through the settlement, ditches of this date were also found.

5. Human remains from the site were assessed as part of a study focussing on age, stature and nutrition in the Roman and Early Anglo-Saxon period.

6. When holes were dug for new play equipment in 1993 more skeletons came to light. 25 inhumations and one cremation in a pot were found, five were men, seven were women and eleven were children.

7. Three early Anglo-Saxon burials were first identified on the site in 1926, with the construction of a play area in 1933 uncovering 26 more burials (ECB1390, MCB6421) and a further 17 burials being uncovered in 2006 (ECB1392 & ECB2172, MCB17253) prior to the construction of a recreational building to the SE. Over three seasons of excavation conducted in 2010, 2011 and 2012 a total of 66 more early Anglo-Saxon graves were excavated with approximately one third of the site still to investigate. Of note were two horse burials, one burial which contained a woman and a cow, and a large number of children’s graves. Many of the skeletons were buried with grave goods including brooches, bead sets (including amber, glass and copper alloy pendants), bone combs, wrist clasps, knives, girdle hangs and a chatelaine. So far only two male graves have been found to contain weapons, including a spear and a shield boss. The most common find from the graves were single sherds of Anglo-Saxon pottery placed on the body, usually at the feet or waist.


Hines, J., n.d., Oakington Report (Unpublished document). SCB18471.


<1> Taylor, A., 1993, Untitled Source (Verbal communication). SCB15873.


<2> Kemp, S and Bray, S., Oakington Anglo-Saxon cemetery (Unpublished report). SCB18469.


<3> Taylor, A., Malim, T. and Evans, C., 1995, Fieldwork in Cambridgeshire: October 1993 - September 1994. PCAS 83: 167-76, p. 169 (Article in serial). SCB17639.


<4> Taylor, A., Duhig, C. and Hines, J., 1998, An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. PCAS 86: 57-90 (Article in serial). SCB18924.


<5> Klingle, D., 2008, Understanding age, stature and nutrition in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire during the Roman and Early Anglo-Saxon periods (AD43-700). Archaeological Review from Cambridge 23.2 (Article in serial). SCB21640.


<6> Taylor, A., 1998, Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol.2: South East Cambridgeshire and the Fen Edge, p. 66 (Bibliographic reference). SCB21794.


<7> Sayer, D, 2013, Oakington Anglo-Saxon Cemetery: Mid-Project Summary (2010-2012) (Unpublished report). SCB46622.

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished document: Hines, J.. n.d.. Oakington Report.
<1>Verbal communication: Taylor, A.. 1993.
<2>Unpublished report: Kemp, S and Bray, S.. Oakington Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
<3>Article in serial: Taylor, A., Malim, T. and Evans, C.. 1995. Fieldwork in Cambridgeshire: October 1993 - September 1994. PCAS 83: 167-76. p. 169.
<4>Article in serial: Taylor, A., Duhig, C. and Hines, J.. 1998. An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. PCAS 86: 57-90.
<5>Article in serial: Klingle, D.. 2008. Understanding age, stature and nutrition in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire during the Roman and Early Anglo-Saxon periods (AD43-700). Archaeological Review from Cambridge 23.2.
<6>Bibliographic reference: Taylor, A.. 1998. Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol.2: South East Cambridgeshire and the Fen Edge. p. 66.
<7>Unpublished report: Sayer, D. 2013. Oakington Anglo-Saxon Cemetery: Mid-Project Summary (2010-2012).