Archaeology in Whittlesford

Archaeology is the study of past cultures through the material (physical) remains people left behind. These can range from small artifacts, such as arrowheads, to large buildings, such as pyramids. Anything that people created or modified is part of the archaeological record.

Archaeologists use these remains to understand and re-create all aspects of past culture, from the daily lives of ordinary people to the grand conquests of emperors. Often, these objects are buried and have to be carefully uncovered or excavated before they can be studied. In many cases, they are the only clues archaeologists have to help them reconstruct the lives of ancient people. These objects are like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that the archaeologist must solve.

A brief history of Whittlesford

Listed as Witelesforde in the Domesday Book, the name Whittlesford means "ford of a man called Wittel", indicating the importance of a local ford across the river in the village.  Roger Ascham, the tutor of Elizabeth I, lived in Whittlesford.

The village of Whittlesford stands by the river Cam or Granta, 7 miles south of Cambridge. The parish, roughly rectangular in shape and 1,976 a. in extent, is bounded on the south by the Royston Newmarket road, formerly a branch of the Icknield Way, and on part of the west by a brook rising at a place called Nine Wells. The eastern boundary follows various branches and former channels of the river.

The northern boundary with Little Shelford was undefined until inclosure, the land being partly intercommonable. The parish lies mostly between 50 and 125 ft. above sea level, and has little sharp relief. The subsoil is mostly chalk, with alluvium along the river, but there is a gravel rise near Stanmoor Hall in the north-west quarter of the parish, and south of the village, where gravel lies over the chalk, the ground also swells gently to over 100 ft. The level northern part of the parish is drained by small streams and water-courses mostly leading north-east into the river.

From: 'Parishes: Whittlesford', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 6 (1978), pp. 263-276.