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Village Archaeology

Archaeologists were out in force in our village once again, this past weekend. This time their mini dig was part of our four-day Fen Edge Family Festival, for which I was one of the team of official photographers.

A metre-square hole was dug on the edge of Cottenham Village Green and it was quickly discovered just what a near-history find this site is. Apparently, in the 1920s when one of the village ponds had become nothing more than a stinking, muddy pit harbouring disease, the Parish decided to fill it in and villagers were invited to carry out a mass spring clean and dump all their sold rubbish into the pit. Broken bicycles, bricks, unfixable tools, cracked bottles and storage jars were dumped and the site “landscaped” to turn the former pond into a village green.

The 2009 Festival’s monster sculpture competition had record numbers of entries from families making fiendish friends from household rubbish, broom handles, and pot plants. By an amazing coincidence, the Time-Team style archaeological mini dig on the Village Green unearthed a century-old bottle embossed with the word MONSTERS. Turns out to have been a bottle that would have contained local produced fruit juice.

FEFF photography by Dave Bradley, Ralph Carpenter, Tim Eade, Liz Hill, Grant Norman, Rita Smith, Mark Swanson, Clive Thomson, Brian Whitehead, Dave Wigley, John Williams.

The Fen Edge Family Festival was established in 2005 and is run by the Fen Edge Community Association (FECA), UK registered charity 29392020, which promotes events, activities, and groups (including Cottenham Archaeology Group and Cottenham Village Society) in Cottenham and the surrounding villages of the Fen Edge Patch: Waterbeach, Willingham, Rampton and Landbeach.

Cottenham itself is a village situated on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens, six miles north of the 800-year old city of Cambridge. Its population has more than doubled over the past 30 years, now standing at more than 6,000, but despite this rapid modern growth the village retains a distinctive character. Its landscape, settlement patterns and buildings show the marks of more than 1,000 years of history, although the mini-dig in our garden unearthed Roman pottery dating back to approximately the third century.

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