Visitors find out about prehistoric life at site of new-build homes in Cambridgeshire
06 Jan 2023

Visitors find out about prehistoric life at site of new-build homes in Cambridgeshire

Visitors had the chance to look around an archaeological dig in Sutton in Cambridgeshire on Saturday, December 17.

Vistry Group is building properties under its Linden Homes brand at Laithwaite Gardens off Mepal Road in the village, near Ely.

Phase one of the scheme is complete and all homes are occupied by its new residents. But before work on phase two could begin, a series of archaeological investigations had to take place, culminating in a 11-week dig on a 3.7-acre section of the site.

Visitors were able to visit the location to find out more about how the archaeologists worked and what they discovered. Approximately 90 people attended the event.

The experts found that the area may have once been located on the edge of a settlement. They were able to identify the location of a prehistoric ring ditch which would have formed part of a burial mound – likely to date from the Bronze Age. Several other simpler burials were found in close proximity.

They also found evidence of fence posts and two simple wells, which may indicate that the area was sub-divided into fields and used for both crops and raising livestock.

Laura Thomas, sales manager for Laithwaite Gardens, said: “This was a great opportunity for people living in the area to find out about what the archaeologists have discovered on the site.

“Our visitors found it fascinating to hear what the experts had to say about the excavation.”

Those who attended were able to see a display of pottery fragments and worked flint that had been discovered in the dig.

As part of the planning and development process for Laithwaite Gardens, Vistry liaised with the Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Team (CHET), who advise on what fieldwork is required.

Vistry East Midlands senior planner Rebecca Smith explained that because the site is in an area of ‘archaeological potential’, the CHET team requested a pre-commencement planning condition requiring archaeological work to be carried out.

She said: “In June, a trial trenching evaluation took place on site, identifying some finds within a number of trenches which required a further open area excavation; this is the work that has been undertaken over the past couple of months.”

A team of archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East were brought in for the on-site archaeological dig.

This phase of the investigation was completed at the beginning of this year, and further off-site work will now take place to radiocarbon-date the artefacts, assess the site and draw up a report outlining what has been discovered there.

Co-ordinator of the project, Chris Clarke, of environmental consulting company RPS Group, explained that archaeological sites are normally only preserved in situ if they contain nationally significant finds, and this is not one of those sites.

But he said that the features are still of great interest and that it is important for the local community to be aware of what had been found. He added: “We will preserve the archaeology by record.”

That means that the items found, and the land features discovered will be studied and explained in a report so that current and future generations can know more about how people lived in prehistoric times in the area.

Archaeology considerations are part of the planning process when developments are proposed.

“The system is designed for archaeology to be incorporated into that process. We are identifying important archaeology. Although we are digging it up, we are working to communicate that to the wider public so that people can appreciate it,” said Chris.

Now that the on-site archaeology is completed, construction work on phase two of Laithwaite Gardens will begin this year.

The first phase of the Linden Homes development brought 77 new homes to the area, including 23 affordable homes for rent or shared ownership. The next phase will be built on a 35-acre site and will include 112 properties for private sale and 52 affordable homes. A further nine plots will be created for self-build homes.

The scheme will also include a new play area, village green, football pitches and land for a burial ground.

For more information about Linden Homes developments in Cambridgeshire, visit

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