Books : reviews

Christopher (2) Evans, Duncan Mackay, Leo Webley.
Borderlands: the archaeology of the Addenbrooke's environs, south Cambridge.
Cambridge Archaeological Unit. 2008

This is the first volume in a new Cambridge Archaeological Unit publication initiative, New Archaeologies of the Cambridge Region. Taking its inspiration from Cyril Fox’s ground-breaking 1923 study of its namesake (and issued to mark that volume’s 85th anniversary), the series is dedicated to the archaeology of Cambridge’s hinterland. The publication relates the 2002/03 Hutchison Site excavations along the west side of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. While primarily concerned with its Iron Age/Roman Conquest-Period dynamics, there was also significant later Bronze Age and Middle Saxon occupation.

The site’s sequence both informs, and is informed by, the results of an evaluation survey extending over 200 ha west to the River Cam, which led to the recovery of some 20 new sites. Thereafter, three other landscape valuation case-studies are presented, drawn both from the County’s southern chalklands and, also its western and northern clays. Seeing comparable site-discovery rates – their results, thereby allow archaeologists to appreciate for the first time what is, in effect, the past fabric of the land – and this enormous increase in site densities has fundamental implications for understanding early land use and settlement/population levels. The case is made that such grand-scale surveys should be considered as ‘stand-alone’ programmes of investigation in their own right. Arguably an ethos which Fox himself would have thoroughly approved, a historiographic perspective is promoted throughout and reappraisal is made of, and new archival sources included from, a number of earlier South Cambridge excavations.