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)

Some of the finds from the first archaeological investigations can be seen in the artefact gallery below

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

U&C and ECL join forces to support local Food Bank archaeology find Large storage jar This ‘Horningsea ware’ was initially shaped by hand and finished on a kick-wheel, a technology introduced to Britain by the Romans. Uncovering the past at Waterbeach Samian Ware This is a broken fragment or ‘sherd’ of pottery known as ‘Samian ware’, mass-produced in Gaul (France) and exported throughout the Roman Empire. Planning permission granted for new A10 bridge at Waterbeach Roman Coins Most of the coins found during the first phase of excavation date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Including a coin of Constans (AD 340-44) and two coins from the reign of Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88) Installing a new Toucan Crossing Cremation vessel A small pottery vessel made in south Gaul (France) and imported to Romano-Britain. This red pottery with a glossy surface is known as ‘Samian ware Car Dyke Junction is now reopen to road traffic Axe head This is a type of axe head known as a ‘palstave’, cast from bronze using a two-piece mould usually made of clay, stone or bronze. Green Side – Suspension of Parking Green Side, Waterbeach Spindle Whorl Whorls were made from a variety of materials and this example is made from a coarse ceramic. It dates to the late Iron Age or early Romano-British period, about 2,000 years ago. Car Dyke Road Junction / A10 archaeology find Large storage jar This ‘Horningsea ware’ was initially shaped by hand and finished on a kick-wheel, a technology introduced to Britain by the Romans. Latest Edition of Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Samian Ware This is a broken fragment or ‘sherd’ of pottery known as ‘Samian ware’, mass-produced in Gaul (France) and exported throughout the Roman Empire. A10 cycling and foot path improvements : Waterbeach to Milton – Start of works Roman Coins Most of the coins found during the first phase of excavation date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Including a coin of Constans (AD 340-44) and two coins from the reign of Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88) Community market moves to Waterbeach Barracks Cremation vessel A small pottery vessel made in south Gaul (France) and imported to Romano-Britain. This red pottery with a glossy surface is known as ‘Samian ware New A10 Bridge heralds Mere Way Cycle Route Axe head This is a type of axe head known as a ‘palstave’, cast from bronze using a two-piece mould usually made of clay, stone or bronze. Waterbeach Beer Festival hosts charity football match Spindle Whorl Whorls were made from a variety of materials and this example is made from a coarse ceramic. It dates to the late Iron Age or early Romano-British period, about 2,000 years ago. Iron Age brought to life at Farmland Museum Heritage Open Day archaeology find Large storage jar This ‘Horningsea ware’ was initially shaped by hand and finished on a kick-wheel, a technology introduced to Britain by the Romans. Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Summer 2021 Samian Ware This is a broken fragment or ‘sherd’ of pottery known as ‘Samian ware’, mass-produced in Gaul (France) and exported throughout the Roman Empire. First homes approved for Waterbeach Barracks Roman Coins Most of the coins found during the first phase of excavation date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Including a coin of Constans (AD 340-44) and two coins from the reign of Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88) New town formally named Waterbeach Cremation vessel A small pottery vessel made in south Gaul (France) and imported to Romano-Britain. This red pottery with a glossy surface is known as ‘Samian ware Discover Waterbeach Barracks’ past at the Farmland Museum Axe head This is a type of axe head known as a ‘palstave’, cast from bronze using a two-piece mould usually made of clay, stone or bronze. Plans shared for new connection between Waterbeach Barracks and Cambridge Science Park – along the historic Mere Way Spindle Whorl Whorls were made from a variety of materials and this example is made from a coarse ceramic. It dates to the late Iron Age or early Romano-British period, about 2,000 years ago. Waterbeach Barracks Spring 2021 newsletter archaeology find Large storage jar This ‘Horningsea ware’ was initially shaped by hand and finished on a kick-wheel, a technology introduced to Britain by the Romans. Waterbeach Naming Consultation begins Samian Ware This is a broken fragment or ‘sherd’ of pottery known as ‘Samian ware’, mass-produced in Gaul (France) and exported throughout the Roman Empire. Longhurst Group appointed as Affordable Housing partner Roman Coins Most of the coins found during the first phase of excavation date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Including a coin of Constans (AD 340-44) and two coins from the reign of Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88) Playgroup moves into transformed building at Waterbeach Barracks Cremation vessel A small pottery vessel made in south Gaul (France) and imported to Romano-Britain. This red pottery with a glossy surface is known as ‘Samian ware A journey through nature at Waterbeach Axe head This is a type of axe head known as a ‘palstave’, cast from bronze using a two-piece mould usually made of clay, stone or bronze. Stonebond Properties to deliver the first homes at Waterbeach Barracks Spindle Whorl Whorls were made from a variety of materials and this example is made from a coarse ceramic. It dates to the late Iron Age or early Romano-British period, about 2,000 years ago. Waterbeach Barracks scoops one of landscape industry’s highest accolades archaeology find Large storage jar This ‘Horningsea ware’ was initially shaped by hand and finished on a kick-wheel, a technology introduced to Britain by the Romans. Waterbeach Barracks Newsletter Summer 2018 Samian Ware This is a broken fragment or ‘sherd’ of pottery known as ‘Samian ware’, mass-produced in Gaul (France) and exported throughout the Roman Empire. Work Begins at Waterbeach Barracks Roman Coins Most of the coins found during the first phase of excavation date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Including a coin of Constans (AD 340-44) and two coins from the reign of Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88) A10 Roundabout – works for new construction access underway Cremation vessel A small pottery vessel made in south Gaul (France) and imported to Romano-Britain. This red pottery with a glossy surface is known as ‘Samian ware Work starts on woodland management at Waterbeach Barracks site Axe head This is a type of axe head known as a ‘palstave’, cast from bronze using a two-piece mould usually made of clay, stone or bronze. Open for business: Homes England investment supports early delivery of 6,500 new homes for Cambridgeshire Spindle Whorl Whorls were made from a variety of materials and this example is made from a coarse ceramic. It dates to the late Iron Age or early Romano-British period, about 2,000 years ago.

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
Already visited the museum?

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!

Sign up

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

Waterbeach Archaeology Open Weekend

Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd April 2022

A team from Oxford Archaeology East are carrying out archaeological investigations at the former Barracks and Airfield at Waterbeach. They are excavating the remains of a large Roman settlement and a later Saxon hall. This is an opportunity to take you behind the scenes of what has been uncovered so far, what it tells us about the history beneath the new development, and what is coming next.

Drop in to see the finds and a display at the Community Building from 10am - 4pm on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd April.

You can also pre-book a tour of the excavation led by an archaeologist on the eventbrite link below. All tours must be booked in advance and take part on the hour at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

archaeology tour at Waterbeach

ADVANCE BOOKING ESSENTIAL FOR TOURS.

Book a guided tour

Exhibition details

Exhibition

Waterbeach Barracks archaeological investigations

Date

2nd - 3rd April 2022

ADDRESS

Waterbeach Barracks
Denny End Road
Waterbeach
CB25 9NY

See on google maps

archaeologist taking a tour at Waterbeach
Book a guided tour
Oxford Archaeology 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!
Name
Consent(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.