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Arbury Archaeology And History - Part 2

As promised, we continue our look at ancient Arbury history by featuring original documents from archaeologists of 1964-1970. The first document, by David Trump and Ray Farrar, is a preliminary report on excavations at Arbury Road from 1964-67. 

What has always been fascinating about the history of the Arbury is the various 'layers' of occupation, from the iron age onwards. This was used as the basis for 'Arbury 1980' and the Arbury Is Where We Live! book in 1981 - with primary school children beginning in the modern day with a study of how the original (then modern day) Arbury Estate functioned, and moving back in time to the old farms, and the Roman and Iron Age eras.

The earthwork surrounding the iron age settlement later had Roman buildings in the fields adjacent, including a villa, and, of course, we come up to the Chesterton Enclosure and the farms of the 1800s and 1900s.

The area of the Arbury Road excavations. Note the route of the original Arbury Road, past the iron age earthwork, and the position of King's Hedges - which was a clearly defined plot of fifty eight acres, and nothing to do with the area by the earthwork at all. It was actually the name of a small farm at this point in the early 1900s. The history of King's Hedges is believed to date back to a royal hedged hunting warren. Its bizarre extended reach into historic Arbury dates only to the 1960s and 1970s, via Cambridge City Council planners. The Council's 'King's Hedges' was already in place by the time of 'Arbury Is Where We Live!' in 1981, which didn't delve into its history, but simply incorporated it as part of historic Arbury.

Just to state once more, any displays like the one pictured below are inaccurate. King's Hedges was a small, strictly defined area with its own history, now north of the guided busway. If you look at the map above, you will see how misleading references to 'King's Hedges' are as an historical entity in the location of the electoral ward/estate north of Arbury Road. The modern King's Hedges Ward in the Arbury district was not historically King's Hedges at all. The fields were previously the Arbury/Harborough Meadows.

Displays like these are pure misinformation - as we reveal in 'The Truth'. Roman villas were found at Milton and in the fields by the Arbury earthwork, but not in any area historically called King's Hedges. All local historians must be aware that local council planners may have rather muddled their local area, and unless you consider the 1960s and 1970s to be ancient history, and favour hugely redirected and extended roads linking to motorways as area definers, it is better to rely on original maps and documents dating back further.

To sum up (sorry we have to repeat this ad nauseum - but, to misquote Lewis Carroll, "if it was King's Hedges, it would be, if it was King's Hedges it should be, but as it wasn't it ain't - that's logic!"): King's Hedges is a purely modern concoction in the Arbury scheme of things, referring to a (not very aptly named) housing estate (also known as North Arbury), an electoral ward, and a late 1970s vastly redirected and expanded road. At the time of the excavations, King's Hedges Road (originally a dead-end farm drift, but envisaged as a major road by the local council from at least the 1930s onwards) was still in its original position - leading to the original King's Hedges site, and having nothing to do with the area by Arbury Camp. King's Hedges had no historical presence in the area of the late 1960s King's Hedges School, or the late 1970s stretch of King's Hedges Road. 

The archaeologists, of course, refer simply to Arbury Road.

So, back to the 1960s - and the archaeologists were looking at Roman crop marks, ditches, and gullies...

Arbury Road - crop marks and sites, 1965-7. Right click on image, click on 'open link in new tab', then click on enlarge for a clear view - do this with each of the pages below.

Click on image for larger version, follow instructions above.

Entering the highly specialised world of the archaeologist can be fascinating - even for lay people like us! 

'A few shards (one certainly of the 4th Century) occurred in the upper fillings, together with a few oyster shells, fragments of animal bone (occasionally burnt), nails, etc...'

From 'Arbury Is Where We Live!' - 1981. A visit from Dr David Trump.

Part three will follow. Future documents cover the Roman villa found near Arbury Camp, and the iron age earthwork and enclosure at Arbury Camp itself.


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