Was a Roman villa found at King's Hedges? I recently saw an outside display in North Arbury/King's Hedges Ward called 'The Roman Landscape in King's Hedges' which claims there was one. And is King's Hedges Road Roman?
We've seen that display. Electoral wards are not historic areas and local historians really do need to be mindful of that fact.
The answer to your question regarding the Roman villa is no. The Roman villa was found on the site of King's Hedges School, which is not part of the historical King's Hedges area. Historically, King's Hedges was an area of fifty eight acres, and is now north of the guided busway.
'Kinges Headge' was named by local manorial landowners the Brackyn family, first appearing in print in 1588. The name points to the royal hedged hunting warren, used to trap and kill animals for 'sport' in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton. These were the 'King's Hedges' and the king would watch the sport from his royal box. The 'sporting' use of the site was also current in the early 1800s - with local pugilists slugging it out - for the 'enjoyment' of Town and Gown.
The Roman villa was discovered not far from the Arbury iron age earthwork, on fields known as the Arbury/Harborough Meadows in the era before Manor Farm.
The fact is, historically the Roman villa had nothing to do with King's Hedges at all, and neither does the site of King's Hedges School.
What is particularly vexing about this is the way planners and local councils ignore the work put in by historian Sallie Purkis and the local community in the early 1980s for Arbury 1980 and the Arbury Is Where We Live! book, and wilfully rewrite history with no regard for that work. If the work had been carried out by people in a more affluent area of the city, we daresay it would still be fawned over to this day - and seen as important. But in an area like Arbury - it seems to be a matter of ignoring the historical truth uncovered by the local (largely working class) community, and forking out for what is actually nonsense - like the display below.
We do hope that we, the public, are not paying for misinformation on outside - or other - displays like this.
For your final question, no King's Hedges Road is not Roman. It was originally a farm track, leading to the original King's Hedges (see map at the top of this blog post). The majority of King's Hedges Road dates from the late 1970s, when it was redirected and extended across the old Arbury/Harborough Meadows as part of the Cambridge Northern Bypass/A14 development. The new road actually lopped off the end of the original Arbury Road, and is actually on a totally different course to the original King's Hedges Road.
If it was King's Hedges it would be, without protest, query, or old maps and documents saying otherwise.
We love to receive your emails, but please remember we are not the only ones producing local history work and we have nothing to do with anybody who proclaims King's Hedges as anything other than King's Hedges. We spend so much time on the subject answering puzzled enquirers, yet we don't even find the history of King's Hedges very appealing. Hedged hunting warrens for royal entertainment and 'sport' and vast 1970s road extensions really do not interest us much.
The majority of King's Hedges Road appeared in the late 1970s, across the old Harborough/Arbury Meadows by the Arbury iron age camp - and lopped off the original end of Arbury Road.