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Iron Age and Middle Saxon Settlements at West Fen Road, Ely, Cambridgeshire: The Consortium Site

Andrew Mudd and Michael Webster
Publication Year:
153pp, Illustrated throughout in black and white
Sub-series name:
Northamptonshire Archaeology Monograph, 2
ISBN 10:
BAR number:


A programme of archaeological excavation was undertaken by Northamptonshire Archaeology in 1999-2000 on land to the north of West Fen Road, Ely, in response to conditions upon planning permission for housing development. The excavation, conducted in several stages, examined substantial parts of later Iron Age and Middle Saxon settlements. Both settlements formed part of wider complexes lying to the south of West Fen Road (The Ashwell Site) which have been published elsewhere. The Iron Age and Middle Saxon sites are described and discussed in detail. Both sites consisted mainly of ditched enclosures with sparser numbers of pits and other features. They yielded significant artefactual assemblages and palaeo-environmental and economic material, including some waterlogged and mineralised plant remains for the Middle Saxon period. Comparisons between the periods show a greater emphasis on sheep rearing in the Middle Saxon period than in the Iron Age, and a more varied diet for the inhabitants, including fish and hedgerow fruits. Both periods of occupation are in many respects typical of broader trends. The Iron Age enclosures formed part of an extensive permanent occupation of the Isle of Ely from 400-300 BC, with reorganisation in the 1st century AD. The beginning of Middle Saxon settlement around AD 700 and its contraction around AD 850 can be attributed to the wider fortunes of the monastic centre on the island.