CGI of the proposed development


An archaeological desk-based assessment and evaluation trial trenching investigation has been undertaken for the site in relation to the consented development (Newman and Brooks 2018).

An archaeological watching brief was maintained during hand-excavated geotechnical test pits at the site during July 2020 by RSK.

The underlying solid geology of the site consists of Gault Formation Mudstone overlain by superficial deposits of sand and gravel.

The site is located to the east of the River Cam and is on ground that slopes downwards towards the north east. A Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) has been approved by the Council. Headland have been engaged by Gilbert-Ash to progress the Archaeology investigation works from Q4 2021 onwards

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Desk Based Assessment

The site is located close to the historic city centre with evidence for activity from the later Prehistoric periods in the form of residual artefacts, stratified in-situ Romano-British archaeological remains within the site, no indications of Saxon activity in the vicinity but evidence for Medieval and post-Medieval occupation of the area and within the site boundary.

The archaeological deposits within the site have investigated and characterised via four trenches (and geotechnical boreholes), the results of which allow RSK to estimate the likely remains to be encountered during the proposed mitigation works described below:

  • Late Prehistoric (i.e. Middle Iron Age c 500 BC to Late Iron Age 200 BC to AD 43) – the site is located in an area which was wet and subject to flooding during prehistoric periods. Limited evidence for prehistoric structures from the evaluation, but a single sherd of Late Iron Age pottery from a pit in Trench 4 indicates activity in the area at this time and therefore a potential for associated features to be encountered during mitigation works.
  • Romano-British (AD 43-410) – The site is located away from the centre of Roman settlement which was focussed on Castle Hill to the north west. There is paleoenvironmental evidence to indicate that the general area of the site became drier during the Romano-British period (ibid 4) and therefore a more desirable area for settlement, industrial and agricultural activities. Romano-British archaeological remains were encountered in each of the evaluation trial trenches and therefore a potential for associated features to be encountered during mitigation works.
  • Anglo-Saxon (AD 410- 1066) – No Anglo-Saxon archaeological features were identified during the evaluation and there is little evidence for contemporary activity in the wider area. Five sherds of pottery from this period were recovered as residual material representing “background noise”.
  • Medieval (1066-1500) – There was more evidence for Medieval activity in Trenches 1-3, consistent with the known expansion and prosperity of the town during this period associated with its role as an inland trading port, ecclesiastical centre and university Town. A significant Medieval feature which may be present at the site from the Medieval period is the King’s Ditch. This was the city boundary established during the 12th Century which encompassed the site, running along the line of what would subsequently become Park Street along the eastern boundary of the site. This is captured in historic mapping from the 17th Century until it was infilled and replaced by Park Street by 1830.
  • Post-medieval (1500-1800) – Activity within the site (and adjacent areas) shifted during the 16th Century with intensification of occupation: within the site this manifested itself in the continued accumulation of garden soils and excavation of pits, some of which were clay lined suggesting industrial activities. This can be associated with the establishment of properties off Bridge Street to the west, with the site laying within the rear of the respective plots.
  • 19th Century – The site changed dramatically during the 19th Century, with the establishment of a network of narrow lanes, yards, domestic and commercial properties across the development area. Cellars to two buildings were identified in Trench 3, and it is to be expected that there will be extensive contemporary 19th Century structures including basements, wall footings, drainage and wells from this period across the site with associated finds assemblages.
  • 20th Century – The densely packed site was transformed during the second half of the 20th Century by the clearance of the pre-existing buildings to widen Park Street and Round Church Street and establish a car park by 1958, which subsequently became the multi-storey car park in 1963 which is currently present at the site.
  • Truncation – As a result of the existing car park piling, the archaeologists will need to work around these existing obstructions.
  • Next steps – Gilbert-Ash / Headland will be progressing with the archaeological investigation works Q4 2021 Phase 1 and Phase 2 later in 2022, further information on any findings will be communicated.