chapter  6
14 Pages

The lower Welland valley, Cambridgeshire, England

Between 1979 and 1990, a whole series of prehistoric sites as well as the landscape inbetween, ranging in date from the fourth to first millennia BC, were investigated, often in advance of gravel extraction and road construction. The principal sites excavated were Barnack/Bainton, Maxey, Etton Woodgate, Etton and Etton Landscape, covering the earlier Neolithic to the Romano-British periods (Figures 6.1 and 6.2) (Pryor and French 1985; Pryor et al. 1985; French 1990, 1992a; French et al. 1992; Simpson et al. 1993; Pryor 1998a; French and Pryor forthcoming). This lowland river gravel landscape was seen as potentially rivalling the upper Thames valley in terms of the quality and range of prehistoric sites present (RCHM 1960), as well as providing the links between the fen-edge and river’s edge hinterland that in the adjacent Nene valley to the south were largely obscured by the establishment of modern Peterborough (see Chapter 7). In addition, many sites were either affected by subsequent alluviation leading to the creation of buried and sometimes still waterlogged landscapes, and/or the presence of upstanding monuments enabled the survival of pockets of old land surface on the higher terrace gravels. Thus there was great, mainly prehistoric, archaeological potential in the lower Welland valley which was ostensibly underexplored and relatively undisturbed by recent disturbances.