More Iron Age finds – including evidence of possible feasting activity – have emerged as archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and the Cambridge Archaeological Unit continue to dig along the A428. Their discoveries, made in advance of the proposed National Highways improvement scheme between Black Cat roundabout and Caxton Gibbet (near St Neots, Cambridgeshire), add to a developing picture of a rich Iron Age/Romano-British landscape that has already been illuminated by other excavations in the area, such as those at Black Cat Quarry (see CA 388) and along the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon (CA 339).
Previous excavations along this route, undertaken near Tempsford in the summer of 2021, had already revealed a large farmstead in what is known as Field 44. This settlement appears to have been in use for several centuries, from the middle Iron Age through to the late Roman period (c.300 BC-AD 400), and a key find was a pair of unusually large roundhouses measuring more than 15m wide, set within a D-shaped enclosure (see CA 385). The MOLA team also found a malt-kiln or corn-dryer dating to the 3rd-4th century AD, as well as evidence of charred, germinated spelt grains, which may be indicative of beer-production on the site (see CA 387).
When MOLA archaeologists returned to the site last summer, they found more evidence of Iron Age activity, strengthening suggestions of the area’s significance during this period. One of the most noteworthy finds was a huge pit full of burnt animal bones, including those of cattle and sheep/goat, as well as pottery vessels and stones, which also appear to have been subjected to fire (above). This discovery has been interpreted as the remains of a large bonfire, possibly used for cooking food for a large feast. Based on the sheer size of the pit, the team hypothesise that this may have been an event where multiple local communities would have come together.
While post-excavation analysis of the pit is just beginning, it is hoped this phase of the work will reveal more about what Iron Age people were consuming during important, possibly ceremonial, events.
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