Ely & District Archaeological Society
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Monday 17th January 2011 - Bob Young and Peter Hoare
Monday 17th January 2011 - Bob Young and Peter Hoare
'Little Thetford: 7000 years of human presence

The talk will present and review archaeological finds and surveys of Little Thetford covering the Stone, Bronze and Iron ages, Roman and Saxon times. The written history of the village, which began in 1007, will also be presented.

There is evidence of human occupation on the 'Little Thetford' island since the late Neolithic Age. A Bronze Age causeway linked the village with nearby Barway; many items from the period have been found in the vicinity of the causeway, some of which indicate pre-Christian worship. A site investigation preceding a village development in 1995 uncovered a Romano-British farm and large tile-kiln; further investigations revealed Pre-Roman settlement. The 10th-century Old English name, lytel Thiutforda, suggests a ford across the nearby River Great Ouse.

An early Anglo-Saxon cemetery, AD 410-1065, uncovered near Little Thetford in ca 1945, was thought to be the lost village of Cratendune. A middle Saxon pendant, AD 601-700, was discovered in a field in Little Thetford in 1952.

The first written evidence that Ely Abbey had inherited the Little Thetford lands was in the 12th century chronicle Liber Eliensis. The will of Ælfwaru (d. 1007), an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, granted estates in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, to the Abbey, which included "... that land at Thetford and fisheries around those marshes".

Bob Young and Peter Hoare (Honorary Associate, The University of Sydney) studied geology together as undergraduates in the 1960s. Bob gained his PhD from the Royal School of Mines, University of London in 1972. He then worked in the mineral exploration industry in Europe, the Far East and the Americas until 2009 when he retired. He is now concentrating on the history of Little Thetford (see link to website www.littlethetford.org in links section.)

Peter gained his PhD from TrinityCollege, University of Dublin in 1972. After a brief spell with the British Geological Survey, he spent 27 years lecturing at Anglia Ruskin University before accepting early retirement in 1999 with both hands; he has never looked back! As well as continuing to study the Quaternary geology of East Anglia, he is an Associate Member of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain group, and has worked on the archaeological excavations at Happisburgh for the past five years. Any spare time is spent researching the geology of ancient walls, the life of a late seventeenth-century Governor of Barbados and attempting to explain the orientation of mediaeval churches.