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CHER Number:CB15675
Type of record:Monument
Name:Romano-British settlement, Little Thetford


Excavations revealed a substantial settlement dating to the Romano-British period.

Grid Reference:TL 528 763
Parish:Thetford, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Associated Finds:

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Iron Age - 100 BC to 42 AD)
  • SHERD (Late Iron Age to 5th century Roman - 100 BC to 409 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (2nd century AD to 4th century AD - 101 AD to 400 AD)

Associated Events:

  • Evaluation at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, 1994
  • Excavation at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, 1995

Full description

1. The archaeological features of a largely Romano-British settlement, probably a farmstead, were concentrated in the western part of the field. Numerous ditches, aligned NW-SE and NE-SW were interspersed with occasional pits or postholes. The excavated contexts produced a considerable bone assemblage, and a late pre-Roman Iron Age and Romano-British pottery group. The pottery evidence suggests that there was a focus of activity in the western part of the site in the C2nd-C1st BC. After this phase, which does not appear to extend very late in the pre-conquest period, there seems to have been a period of inactivity which was followed, probably not before the C2nd AD, by Roman activity of an uncertain type.
2. Excavation was carried out in the area of the Romano-British settlement, revealing a considerable density of archaeological features, including ring gullies, enclosure ditches, numerous pits and postholes, human skeletal remains and a tile-making kiln.
3. The Romano-British ditch system respects its Iron Age antecedents in many cases, though new areas too are enclosed; however, the general character and purpose of the system probably remained the same: drainage and boundary maintenance. There is a new straight axis running NW-SE off which many of the small linear gullies, sub-enclosures, tile-kiln and large square enclosures are aligned. Perhaps the most important discovery on the site, the tile kiln was a single-flued chamber with originally four pairs of arched cross-walls. Associated with this was a stoke pit in whose multiple fills lay huge quantities of roofing and structural tile fragments (including tegulae, imbrices, lydions, pedales and sequipedales). While the abandonment deposits contained C4th pottery, it is probable that the kiln's construction dates to the later C2nd or early C3rd AD.

Sources and further reading

<1>Unpublished report: Gdaniec, K.. 1994. Archaeological Investigations at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Cambridge Archaeological Unit Report 111
<2>Unpublished report: Hinman, M.. 1995. Archaeological Excavations at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Interim Report. Cambridge Archaeological Unit Report
<3>Unpublished report: Lucas, G. and Hinman, M.. 1996. Archaeological Excavations of an Iron Age Settlement and Romano-British Enclosures at Watson's Lane, Little Thetford, Ely, Cambridgeshire. Post-Excavation Assessment Report. Cambridge Archaeological Unit