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Expanding Settlements in the Nene Park Area



During the Iron Age, tribal culture began to take hold and people needed to defend their territory against their rivals. The tribe which held the Nene Valley, the Corieltauvi, may have had allegiances to the large and powerful tribe to the south, the Catuvellauni, but we don’t know about their other neighbouring tribes. The settlement within Nene Park (mainly on what is now Coney Meadow at Ferry Meadows) became more defensive, as we can see on geophysical survey results. Ditches almost a kilometre in length were built across a meander in the River Nene, so that the settlement would be protected on all sides. The Iron Age is also when we can first start to see similarities between how people lived then and now: the Celts wore linen and dyed wool, used coins as currency and enjoyed continental luxuries, including Roman wine.


Roman Pottery Kilns in Stanground



Local Roman enthusiasts will be familiar with the pottery kilns in Normangate Field near Castor. However, there was also a pottery industry in Stanground too. During the 1960s there were several excavations to explore Roman features under what is now Park Farm. Archaeologists discovered four pottery kilns dating from the early to mid-third century (200-250 AD). There was also a 'pottery dump', several ditches, burials and coins too. 15 coins were found in total, which could all be dated to between 260 AD and 350 AD. This suggests that the site was abandoned by around 365. It also suggests that the site had two different uses over two different time periods. Interestingly, two of the ditches discovered on the site were dated to pre-Roman activity, possibly Iron Age. This extends the use of the site over several centuries. Analysis of the clay on the site identified two distinct types. One clay was finer and would have been used for high-end pottery. The other was used for every-day ware and would have been chosen for more rigorous domestic use. Over 240 kilograms of pottery were identified during excavations, not all had been created at the site though. A mixture of grey ware, colour-coated ware, cream ware and shell-gritted ware were discovered. These were represented as beakers, dishes, flagons, jars and dishes on the whole. Pottery created on the site has been found at other local Roman sites including Orton Hall and Peterborough Cathedral.

Roman Healing Well Used



Most of the archaeological digs in the 21st century are small digs in advance of development. One of these digs took place in Bretton before the Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre was opened. An unexpected find was a Roman Healing well and evidence of a settlement lasting around 400 years. The Eagle Wood site is directly south of Grimeshaw Wood and to the east of the Milton Estate. Originally situated within Walton parish, the area was once heavily wooded. Since the 1960s the area has been part of the Bretton township. The archaeological dig in advance of the Eagle Wood centre identified an Iron Age Settlement dating from approximately 100BC. The site continued to be used until around 300AD which was during Roman occupation of the area. Finds included coins, shoes, pots and animal bones, but most impressive is a stone-lined tank. At approximately 2.5 metres deep, the tank was probably a roman healing well. It is of national interest because of its uniqueness. Nearby, other artefacts have been discovered including an amulet, a pendant and an ice skate. An aisled barn and evidence of field systems were also discovered in the area, showing that people were living nearby. The bottom of the stone-lined tank has been left in place, but the upper stones of the tank have been incorporated into landscaping of the site. The artefacts discovered during the dig can be viewed in the reception of the Eagle Wood Neurological Care Centre. Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © JThomas -