|Trumpington Local History Group
Archaeology of Anstey Hall Farm
|Stuart Ladd introduced the archaeological research by explaining that the barns to the rear of
Anstey Hall Farm were being redeveloped for housing. Stuart thanked Hill Residential and John
de Bruyne and family for their support during the project.
Oxford Archaeology East had done trial trenches in December 2013 then the full excavation in
2015. This followed earlier excavations in the area, including at Trumpington Meadows,
Waitrose and Clay Farm. The Trumpington Meadows excavation to the south of Anstey Hall
Farm had identified Middle and Late Saxon enclosures, and the evaluation prior to the Anstey
Hall Farm excavation suggested that ditches continued into the Anstey Hall Farm area. The latest
work at Anstey Hall Farm then found evidence of the Middle and Late Saxon settlement.
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2017. Updated 8 March 2017.
Hall Farm, 2015.
|At the meeting of the Local History Group on 29 September 2016, Stuart
Ladd (Oxford Archaeology East) gave an update on the excavation at
Anstey Hall Farm, Trumpington. There had been an open day at the site
on 10 May 2015, while the excavation was underway. Meeting report by
Andrew Roberts, with thanks to Stuart Ladd and to OAE for the
photographs. One of a number of pages about local archaeology.
|Aerial photograph overlain with the excavated areas: Anstey Hall Farm (centre),
Trumpington Meadows (lower left) and Waitrose (lower right). OAE.
|Finds from the Anstey Hall Farm site included animal bone and pottery. There was Roman
pottery but this was found in Saxon features (there were no Roman features). Although there
was Early, Middle and Late Saxon pottery, it was difficult to use this for dating as there was
limited evidence from c. 800 to c. 900 AD, and the land was reused and pottery could become
buried in earlier features. Much of the animal bone had been butchered, including cattle and a
horse. There was also a horse bone that had been used as a skate.
|Pottery, butchered animal bone and horse bone used as a skate. OAE.
|There were a few Middle Saxon structures indicated by post holes, probably earlier 8th century,
but no enclosures from this period. Similar structures had been found nearby during the
Trumpington Meadows excavation. There were reconstructions of this type of structure at the
archaeological exhibition at West Stow.
|Excavating the Middle Saxon structure.
|West Stow workshop, reconstructed in
1991. Source: Wikipedia image taken in
|As a wider context, Stuart said that in the Middle Saxon, 8th century, Christianity was being
adopted and pagan cemeteries were being succeeded by organised Christian burial grounds. At
Anstey Hall Farm, there was evidence of the Middle Saxon settlement, c. 750-850 AD, although
the centre of the settlement was to the north of the site. There were regular ditch divisions and
fence enclosures in the southern part of the site, probably for livestock. There was evidence of a
north-south boundary ditch to the south of the current cemetery, across the line of the new
access road from Anstey Hall to the development. There was also a palisade trench in the north
of the site, near the current church. This palisade would probably have had fence posts 2-3 m
high. It was c. late 8th century and may have delimited a defended part of the settlement or an
early church. The palisade was removed in the 9th century.
|Middle Saxon settlement, c. 750-850 (green coloured features in the excavated
areas): ditches and enclosures (centre and lower centre), boundary ditch (lower
right), palisade (upper centre). OAE.
|Middle Saxon enclosures and palisade being excavated. OAE.
|Middle Saxon boundary (upper left) and palisade
(right and lower left) being excavated. OAE.
|In the Late Saxon period, the settlement may still have been centred to the north of the
excavated area. There was a ditch on the same line as the Middle Saxon ditch. The north-south
ditch seemed to line up with a ditch found during the Trumpington Meadows excavation.
Everything in the excavated area seemed to be related to livestock. There was a pit with a lot of
waste bone, including the remains of a feast.
|Late Saxon settlement (blue coloured features): structures and fences (centre left),
ditch replacing earlier boundary (centre). OAE.
|Late Saxon settlement, waste bone. OAE.
|By the 12th century, there was a reorganisation of land use. Although post-Norman, this may not
be due to Norman influence. The land had been given to the Abbot of Ely in 991 and this may
have been a deciding factor. The church site would have been in use and there was a track going
north-south towards the church. The enclosure ditches were no longer in use and had been
replaced by open fields, which continued in use until the enclosure process in the early 19th
|12th century features (pink and purple coloured features): barn (centre left), large
pit (upper centre), trackway (centre), industrial area with quarry and ovens (lower
centre), open fields (lower). OAE.
|The only continuity within the site from Late Saxon into the Medieval may be a large barn.
There was a pit at the northern end of the site about 20 m from the early church, perhaps a cess
pit or cold storage pit, with steps down into the space. Changes through the 12th century
included a quarry pit at the southern side of the site, where there was an industrial area including
an oven which would have been 3-4 m in diameter, with charred wheat and oats. Stuart said that
this might be evidence of centralise manorial or ecclesiastical authority.
|Evidence of 12th century barn and pit. OAE.
|Looking more broadly across the area of Trumpington village, Stuart referred to consistency in
the Late Saxon evidence from the Anstey Hall Farm, Trumpington Meadows and Waitrose sites,
with similar patterns in the landscape. He noted that the western end of Grantchester Road was
on a similar alignment to the Late Saxon boundary ditch and that this route may be related to the
ford to Grantchester. (Stuart added that there had been another east-west route to the north of
the current village, again orientated towards a ford.) He said that other alignments such as the
boundary of Anstey Hall were similar to the alignment of the Late Saxon enclosures. The
boundary was apparent on Baker's 1830 map and could still be seen today. There was
documentary evidence for an 'Anstey Hall' manor house as early as 1279 and it was possible this
was built on a Saxon site. Stuart summarised the overall evidence as suggesting that the core of
Late Saxon 'Trumpington' was in the area of the church and the houses on Maris Lane.
One question was about the synthesis of the results from the patchwork of excavations across
the area. Stuart replied that the report on the Anstey Hall Farm excavation was being finalised
and he understood the Cambridge Archaeological Unit was publishing a report on its work.
Another question was about water supplies. Stuart mentioned that deep wells were found in the
Trumpington Meadows excavation (Early Saxon).
He was asked about the likely size of the local population. Stuart commented that there was a
problem that the excavation was on the edge of the settlement area. Andrew Roberts added that
the information in the Domesday Book gave a population of 37 households (about 185 people) in
Stuart was asked why there were so few finds in the Saxon ditches. He explained that there was
less pottery production in the Saxon period than in the Roman period, with more use of organic
material that had not survived.
|12th century oven. OAE.
Stuart Ladd on site during the
Open Day, May 2015. Andrew
Children with pottery during the
Open Day, May 2015. Andrew