NEWS

Secrets of Deserted Villages31 Aug

As archaeologists, we usually focus on the excavation and analysis of the physical remains of people’s lives, such as pottery, bone, and coins. But there is another source of information which can bring a new element to our investigations! In this blog we will explore some historic documents. These relate…


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Murder they croaked? Investigating a prehistoric frog mystery on the A1408 Jul

Archaeology is not just the study of past human activity. It also looks at the animals that inhabited ancient landscapes. During excavations on the National Highways A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road Improvement Scheme we retrieved more than four tonnes of animal bones, which we are now studying in detail.  Our…


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What can stone tools tell us about prehistoric lives on the A14?29 Apr

Image showing line drawings of Neolithic worked flints. On the left are two leaf shaped arrowheads, showing front, back view and profile. On the right is a flaked axed, represented in front view, profile and bottom view.

The further we travel back in time, the harder it becomes to read the traces left by our ancestors. While we have a wide variety of objects, buildings, and even written materials dating to our recent past, not as much survives from the Stone Age (c. 500,000-2200 BC). We have…


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Volunteers reveal the lives of six Londoners buried in St James’s Burial Ground03 Mar

People from all walks of life were buried at St James’s Burial Ground, rich and poor, young and old. The cemetery was used from 1790 to 1843, during a time when London was expanding quickly. It struggled to deal with London’s increasing population and closed to new burials earlier than…


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X-rays grant vision into the past – What we found out X-raying ancient pottery from the A14 (and why we did it)24 Feb

Radiographs of Iron Age and Roman jars

Excavations on the National Highways A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road Improvement Scheme may be complete, but we’re continuing to study the incredible amount of finds unearthed. Now, when you think about X-rays you probably imagine hospitals and airport security rather than archaeology and ancient pots. However, recently more than 100…


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Pots and metals along the A14 – Masters students reflect on their National Highways and MOLA Headland studentship06 Jan

Left: Lanah holding a pot, reconstructing its shape. Right: Jemma in hi-visibility clothing in the middle of a field.

Back in 2020, Jemma Moorhouse and Lanah Hewson were each awarded an MA Scholarship funded by National Highways at Reading University. This included a placement to work with MOLA Headland on the archaeological excavations that formed part of the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road Improvement Scheme. Having now completed their…


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Nifty neutrons – isotope analysis on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon National Highways scheme02 Nov

(1) A cow tooth analysed to try and determine birthing seasons. (2) Bone samples demineralising in acid during the collagen extraction process.

Isotope analysis makes it possible to understand past environments and the human diet by using information taken from a single tooth, bone or plant grain. This revolutionary technique is being used by Professor Janet Montgomery and Dr Joanna Moore (of Durham University) on materials found during the A14 Cambridge to…


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Become a citizen scientist and unlock the stories of St James’s Burial Ground24 Aug

As part of our work on High Speed 2, we are inviting people to take part in a huge citizen science project – digitising 57,639 burial records that hold key details about the lives of Londoners in the 18th- and 19th-century.  Anyone can take part via the Stories of St James’s…


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Radiocarbon dating on the A14 Cambridge to Huntington Improvement Scheme17 May

Radiocarbon dating is a key tool that is allowing us to more precisely understand the chronology of archaeological sites and features across the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme. Over 400 radiocarbon samples have been sent to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), giving us dates for features such…


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‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’: the Roman Ceramic Revolution in Cambridgeshire18 Mar

A cross section diagram of a Roman updraught kiln showing the arrangement of a movable floor propped up on pilasters, on which pots would be stacked. Above ground level, a dome of clay and turf (not pictured) would insulate the load. A fire would then be set in the opening on the left (the ‘firebox’ or ‘flue’), the resulting heat being drawn up into the kiln by air currents.

The numerous archaeological surveys we have carried out on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme have revealed a huge range of archaeology, dating from the earliest hunter-gatherers to the Second World War. Most recently, excavations by MOLA Headland Infrastructure have revealed new insights into the Roman Ceramic Revolution in…


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