Working with Heritage
Sustainability has been at the heart of the Vision for Mere Way from day one, in providing low carbon and active options for people to get about and enjoy the landscape around them.
The team have started from the point that the designs for this route must minimise the impact on heritage and ecology and provide opportunity to improve both the natural environment and to provide interpretation for some of the unique heritage assets along this route. The section below sets out how the design intends to do this.
Celebrating and protecting our heritage
Mere Way and Akeman Street are historic Rights of Way, and we relish the responsibility of evolving them into sustainable routes for the future. We have been working with Oxford Archaeology and Cambridgeshire County Council to agree an approach which safeguards the heritage and celebrates it as part of the interpretation and promotion of the route.
Oxford Archaeology – who have been extensively involved in exploring the heritage of the area over the past few decades – were commissioned to undertake a Heritage Statement for the proposed Waterbeach Mere Way cycle path. This document was produced to aid the planning of the route; identifying any potential archaeological or wider heritage impacts as well as opportunities for enhancement to heritage assets – including the installation of interpretation boards along the route, and/or improved access to heritage assets.
Key heritage assets
Note-worthy heritage stories and influences, such as :
- Mere Way, part of the old Roman Road which connects to Akeman Street and continues in some sections up to the Isle of Ely.
- Akeman Street is the old Roman road that runs from Cambridgeshire to the north coast of Norfolk and runs approximately 75 miles (120 km) long. It ran from Ermine Street near Wimpole Hall, via Durolipons (now Cambridge), before joining the present A10 towards Ely, Denver and the coast at Brancaster. The road was constructed on top of an earlier trackway which dates from the 2nd Century.
- Worts Meadow: this area of earthworks indicates archaeological remains from the early medieval period, including the remains of a manorial estate and village. It is one of many historic assets in Landbeach, which has over 17 Listed Buildings in it, alongside this Scheduled Ancient Monument.
- Tithe Barn: Tithe barns were built in the days when every peasant gave a tenth of their crops to the church, the contributions being stacked in the barn for winter threshing and storage. The Tithe Barn at Landbeach is one of the few still standing, and dating back to the Sixteenth Century tells a unique story, which is now being saved and retold for future generations by the team at the Tithe Barn Trust.
Careful construction approaches
The proposed construction of the cycle path is expected to involve minimal impact along much of the route. Much of the work will sit within and upon previously developed routes, as through Landbeach and the paved areas of Akeman Street.
Where new surfaces are being applied – such as along the fields connecting Waterbeach and Landbeach and along Mere Way – the approach will involve low impact work, including:
- Levelling the ground to create a solid base for the route
- Putting in place the concrete edging
- Laying tarmac to a 30mm depth within the edging
- Repair work to the grass verge and seeding
As the work is taken forward any additional requirements for mitigation will be identified through consultation with the Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Team (CHET).
As part of the promotion of the route, the development’s Heritage Group are supporting us to produce a leaflet about the history of the route, and we will explore opportunities for interpretation boards and audio clips in key locations to promote the historic route and the local heritage assets they connect to.