Our new book Unearthing the A14: 50 objects from one of Britain’s biggest digs explores some of the most interesting and intriguing finds from the National Highways A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme excavations and the sometimes-unexpected stories they tell of the ancient communities, animals, and landscapes connected by today’s A14.

Based on findings from six years of research and analysis by archaeological specialists from MOLA Headland Infrastructure, it is now available to buy through the MOLA bookshop

Click HERE to purchase Unearthing the A14.

The front cover of the bookOur excavations in advance of the A14 road improvement scheme were among the most complex ever undertaken in the UK, unearthing more than 280,000 artefacts! Finds featured in the book include a beautifully carved stone axe head from the Palaeolithic period (Old Stone Age, 750,000 years ago-12,000 years ago). Made before the end of the last Ice Age, this axe would have been a treasured possession of a nomadic hunter-gatherer.

Another stunning find was the beads of two amber necklaces from a Bronze Age (2500-750 BC) cremation burial. Amber was a highly prized material, possibly thought to have magical properties and its inclusion in the burial suggests the two cremated individuals were of high status.  

11 amber beads laid out in a line on a dark background.

Bronze Age amber beads from the A14 dig

Other objects show how Cambridgeshire has long been connected to wider trade routes, including an incredibly rare ‘radiate’ of Emperor Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus. Only one other coin of this kind has previously been found in an archaeological dig in England. Laelianus was emperor for a matter of months and this coin likely didn’t arrive in Cambridgeshire until well after his execution.  

the front and back of a worn Roman coin photographed on a dark background

Coin of Emperor Laelianus from the A14 excavations

For those looking to delve even deeper into the discoveries, we’re excited to launch our A14 Roadtrip to the Past. Follow the link to take a virtual journey of discovery along the route of the A14 exploring even more of the excavation’s findings. Dig into the maps and data that archaeologists use to piece together the past, exploring everything from 40,000-year-old woolly mammoths to the unusual, reconstructed sound of an early medieval reed pipe, and the remains of an abandoned Victorian railway station. 

Join us on our journey!
Find out more about the A14C2H improvement scheme

The archaeological programme for the Cambridge to Huntingdon National Highways scheme is being carried out by A14 Integrated Delivery Team on behalf of National Highways.