Digging draws to a close at Meldreth’s hidden history project

Artefacts uncovered at Meldreth Hidden History project

Artefacts uncovered at Meldreth Hidden History project - Credit: Archant

DIGGING has drawn to a close at a village archaeology project which has unearthed an array of unusual items, some of which are over 1,000 years old.

The third and final round of excavations in the Understanding Our Past: Exploring the Hidden History of Meldreth project took place at the weekend, with a further ten test pits being dug in the village by volunteers co-ordinated by the Meldreth Local History Group.

The project has been organised by the group, who worked closely with Cambridge University’s Cambridge Community Heritage team. All ten pits last weekend were open to the public and archaeologist Catherine Ranson was in the village on both days to offer professional advice and guidance. In addition, Topcliffe Mill, a disused watermill was open to visitors.

Kathryn Betts, secretary of the Meldreth Local History Group, said: “The pits produced an interesting and varied assortment of artefacts. Items found included pottery from the last thousand years, an eighteenth century military button, a metal shoe clamp from a fen boot, prehistoric flint tools, large quantities of oyster shells and a variety of butchered bones from medieval kitchens. In one test pit, dug on the site of a former manor house, a metal arrowhead was found in a 10cm layer that also contained 38 pieces of bone, 48 pieces of medieval pottery and 62 shells, mainly oyster.”

A preliminary report has recently been received on the pilgrim’s badge which was found in the first weekend of test pits in the village in June. Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell of Cambridge University believes that the badge, which dates from the 14th or 15th century, depicts the crucifixion and described it as a “very unusual item”.

Finds from all of the test pits are now undergoing processing in the village before being sent to Cambridge University for expert analysis and identification.

Mrs Betts said: “We had some particularly interesting finds last weekend and have been delighted with the success of this project. We will be holding an exhibition in Meldreth Village Hall on Sunday 24 November which will be attended by Dr Carenza Lewis, former Time Team presenter.

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“The exhibition will give visitors a chance to view all of the finds and to discover what they reveal about the history and development of the village.”

For more information on the project, please visit www.meldrethhistory.org.uk.