Archaeology

Waterbeach Barracks sits at the heart of two major routeways built by the Romans: Akeman Street, which runs from near Wimpole up to Ely and on to Denver in Norfolk (almost on the line of the current A10) and a Roman canal called the Old Tillage.
Archaeologist working at Waterbeach Barracks

This waterway was once referred to as Car Dyke and was believed to have run all the way from Waterbeach to Lincoln. However, we now know that the Cambridgeshire stretch of the canal did not link directly to the Car Dyke system.

These routeways were built at the peak of Roman Britain, and that era dominates the archaeology and historic landscape unveiled by the first round of archaeological investigations carried out at the former Barracks and Airfield at Waterbeach in 2020.

We know that the land north of Cambridge around Waterbeach, Landbeach, Milton and Cottenham has been occupied since as early as the Iron Age (800 BC–AD 43)

The results of the first archaeological investigations can be seen in an exhibition at neighbouring Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum

archaeology find

Archaeology periods timeline 

> 800 BC
Iron Age
iron age settlement

Reconstruction of an Iron Age settlement

Peter Lorimer, © Oxford Archaeology

> AD 43

Roman Britain

Image

A reconstruction of a Roman 'port' like the one found nearby

Peter Lorimer, © Oxford Archaeology

> AD 410

Anglo Saxon

anglo saxon settlement

Reconstruction of an Anglo Saxon farm, showing hall type buildings

Peter Lorimer, © Oxford Archaeology

> AD 1066

Medieval

waterbeach abbey

A reconstruction of Waterbeach Abbey

Jon Cane, © Cambridgeshire County Council

What's happening now?

Archaeologists are preparing for the next phase of archaeology to get underway.

Over the next 6 months we’ll be building on our first phase of archaeology, looking at a large Roman Settlement, Iron Age settlement and the site of a possible Anglo-Saxon hall!

Stay updated

Artefact Gallery

New A10 Bridge heralds Mere Way Cycle Route archaeology find Large storage jar Waterbeach Beer Festival hosts charity football match Samian Ware Iron Age brought to life at Farmland Museum Heritage Open Day Roman Coins including those which
date to the reign of Magnus Maximus
(AD 383–88) and the founding of
Constantinople in AD 330
Latest edition of Waterbeach Barracks newsletter Cremation vessel A Samian ware cremation vessel find First homes approved for Waterbeach Barracks Axe head A complete and well preserved Early Bronze Age axe head New town formally named Waterbeach Spindle Whorl Discover Waterbeach Barracks’ past at the Farmland Museum archaeology find Large storage jar Plans shared for new connection between Waterbeach Barracks and Cambridge Science Park – along the historic Mere Way Samian Ware Waterbeach Barracks Spring 2021 newsletter Roman Coins including those which
date to the reign of Magnus Maximus
(AD 383–88) and the founding of
Constantinople in AD 330
Waterbeach Naming Consultation begins Cremation vessel A Samian ware cremation vessel find Longhurst Group appointed as Affordable Housing partner Axe head A complete and well preserved Early Bronze Age axe head Playgroup moves into transformed building at Waterbeach Barracks Spindle Whorl A journey through nature at Waterbeach archaeology find Large storage jar Stonebond Properties to deliver the first homes at Waterbeach Barracks Samian Ware Waterbeach Barracks scoops one of landscape industry’s highest accolades Roman Coins including those which
date to the reign of Magnus Maximus
(AD 383–88) and the founding of
Constantinople in AD 330
Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Summer 2018 Cremation vessel A Samian ware cremation vessel find Work Begins at Waterbeach Barracks Axe head A complete and well preserved Early Bronze Age axe head A10 Roundabout – works for new construction access underway Spindle Whorl Work starts on woodland management at Waterbeach Barracks site archaeology find Large storage jar Open for business: Homes England investment supports early delivery of 6,500 new homes for Cambridgeshire Samian Ware Time to start training for Waterbeach Running Festival  Roman Coins including those which
date to the reign of Magnus Maximus
(AD 383–88) and the founding of
Constantinople in AD 330
Locals soak up fun and culture at this year’s Summer at the Beach Cremation vessel A Samian ware cremation vessel find Remembrance Sunday: memory of fundraising soldier honoured Axe head A complete and well preserved Early Bronze Age axe head Record breaking Waterbeach Running Festival Spindle Whorl Design Code seals the quality vision for Waterbeach development archaeology find Large storage jar Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Autumn 2019 Samian Ware Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Summer 2019 Roman Coins including those which
date to the reign of Magnus Maximus
(AD 383–88) and the founding of
Constantinople in AD 330
Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Summer 2017 Cremation vessel A Samian ware cremation vessel find Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Winter 2016/17 Axe head A complete and well preserved Early Bronze Age axe head Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Winter 2015 Spindle Whorl

You can find out more here

Haven’t seen the exhibition as yet?

Learn more about how our predecessors lived and what they did here.

Plan your visit and book tickets. 

Exhibition boards
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Exhibition details

Exhibition

Waterbeach Barracks archaeological investigations

End

21 October 2021

ADDRESS

The Farmland Museum, Denny Abbey, Ely Road, Waterbeach, Cambridge, CB25 9PQ

exhibition entrance sign
Book on the museum website
Oxford Archaeology Logo
Denny Abbey Museum Logo

You can find out more here

Sign up to hear more about the forthcoming archaeology taking shape over the next six months and be among the first to find out how you can get involved!
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