Archaeological excavations carried out by Oxford Archaeology East for Urban&Civic at Wintringham, St Neots show it was home to farming communities over 2000 years ago. From the Iron Age to the Romano-British period, successive generations lived on this land growing new crops, managing livestock and adding enclosures, buildings and roads.
Archaeological investigations are taking place ahead of each phase of development as it rolls out with only a small proportion of the site having been excavated by archaeologists so far.
Wintringham will bring forward 2,800 homes and up to 63,000 sq m of employment space, whilst approximately 146 acres of the development will be green space. The designs are already being influenced by the rich heritage that lies beneath the surface, with the first primary school’s timber frame and round shape drawing on the historical roundhouses found through the first phase excavation works, which would have been home to families throughout the Iron Age.
Rebecca Britton, Communications, Communities and Partnerships manager at Urban&Civic, said: “It is really important that new communities have connections to the heritage around them, and archaeology is a vital way to draw the history beneath us into the heart of the new development. From layout and design, to street names and themes for play areas, history can bring the new community together and connect people to the communities around them”.
Clemency Cooper, Community Archaeology Manager at Oxford Archaeology East, said: “Engaging local people in what our teams are doing on developments like Wintringham is always fantastic, and much of it is about understanding the context for finds and what they can tell us about how people were living, working, eating, and getting about many thousands of years before us.
“Our investigations at Wintringham add to what was learned by excavations previously carried out at Loves Farm and along the A14, giving us a far richer understanding of the history around us. We wouldn't have this knowledge without the opportunity to excavate due to the new development, and it is great to work with companies like Urban&Civic which embrace and embed that into the new development coming forward for the benefit of current and future residents.”
The archaeology podcast also features input from Liz Davies, the curator of St Neots Museum, and it is hoped that a number of the finds coming forward will be able to go on display in the museum, along with having interpretation and displays on site.
Liz Davies, Curator at St Neots Museum, said: “The history and growth of St Neots is a constantly evolving story, and we learn more about our past each day through excavations such as this. Our heritage is great way of bringing people together, and we look forward to working with Urban&Civic to ensure the past and future of the newest part of St Neots is captured in the museum as well as on site at Wintringham.”
The archaeology episode and all other episodes in the series are available at https://wintringham.org