Archaeological dig uncovers ancient settlement at Wimpole

Small 5cm copper alloy human figurine held in a glove hand

With an exciting new visitor welcome and car park planned for Wimpole, this ambitious project offered a rare opportunity to investigate a part of the ancient landscape of Wimpole; revealing a Late Iron Age to Early Roman (c.100BC – 150AD) rural settlement.

On a scorching day in July 2018, Oxford Archaeology East started the dig and over the next three months uncovered a site that surpassed their expectations.  The remains were extremely dense, representing several phases of changing land use over a few hundred years; from livestock enclosures to farming plots and settlement reorganisation.

Two roundhouses were revealed, one with its central hearth intact, although in general, structural remains on site were relatively scarce. This may have been largely due to the 19th century coprolite mining, which had disturbed much of the potential ‘core’ of the settlement.  Toward the ‘edge’ of the settlement was also a rudimentary corn dryer and a near complete but broken Roman pot found within a ditch indicates that local pottery was made on site at Wimpole!

" The most striking find of the dig for me was a small 5cm copper alloy human figurine, made in the 2nd Century AD thought to represent the god ‘Cernunnos’ – the god of fertility."
- Shannon Hogan, NT Archaeologist

This settlement at Lamp Hill seems to have been more than just simple subsistence living. The metalwork, as well as imported pottery and fragments of a glass vessel, suggests a strong trading network with a liking for military objects.

A Roman coin found at Lamp Hill
A small coin held in a gloved hand
A Roman coin found at Lamp Hill

So far we have perhaps in the region of 300 metal objects including coins, cosmetic implements, horse harness fittings, Roman military uniform fittings, a spearhead, an axe head, key handles, brooches, a ring as well as scrap lead and a number of iron nails and other utilitarian objects.