Ely & District Archaeological Society
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Monday 19th February 2018 - Tom Phillips
Monday 19th February 2018 - Tom Phillips
North-west Ely: Bronze Age fields, Roman farmsteads and an Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery:

Oxford Archaeology East have been carrying out fieldwork in north-west Ely since early 2013, investigating a large area of rural landscape (72 hectares) outside the historic core of the city but still located on the peninsula of higher ground which rises above the surrounding fen. Early stages of work included geophysics and evaluation trenching, the combined results of which revealed several discrete areas of buried remains, dating from early prehistory through to the post-medieval period. Three areas have now been fully excavated, with another two (including the largest) yet to come. The completed excavation areas include the new Isle of Ely school site, which revealed a Middle Bronze Age enclosure and Roman field systems, and a block of land to the south of King Edgar Close, the focus of which was an area of Late Iron Age and Early Roman settlement.
More recently, a 2.5 hectare area west of Lynn Road has been excavated, revealing Late Bronze Age settlement features, a section of Roman road, and most significantly an Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery dating to the 5th-6th centuries. Grave goods were found with most of the burials and include a sword, shield bosses, spears, knives, long brooches, beads, and several worked bone items. There is good evidence that one group of burials are slightly later, probably late 6th or early 7th century, which dates them to the 'Conversion Period'. There are now at least four Early Saxon cemeteries known on the Isle of Ely but very little settlement evidence. This discovery not only raises questions about the location and scale of any related settlement, but also whether the communities of Early Saxon Ely were natives to the area or incomers, and how they fit within the wider picture of the fens and Middle Anglian territories.

Tom Phillips is a Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology East and has been working in and around Cambridgeshire for 15 years. His particular interest is prehistoric landscapes, and how those landscapes develop over time. He has directed projects across East Anglia including large-scale excavations in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. Since 2005 Tom has been heavily involved with the Blick Mead excavations in Amesbury, Wiltshire, which have uncovered a Mesolithic site of national importance close to Stonehenge. Tom has also worked on excavations abroad, in Israel and Egypt.