Books : reviews

Christopher (2) Evans, Sam Lucy, Ricky Patten Webley.
Riversides: neolithic barrows, a Beaker grave, iron age and Anglo-Saxon burials and settlement at Trumpington, Cambridge.
Oxbow. 2018

Where Three Rivers Meet – the 2010–11 excavations along Trumpington’s riverside proved extraordinary on a number of counts. Particularly for its ‘dead’, as it included Neolithic barrows (one with a mass interment), a double Beaker grave and an Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery, with a rich bed-burial interment in the latter accompanied by a rare gold cross. Associated settlement remains were recovered with each.

Most significant was the site's Early Iron Age occupation. This yielded enormous artefact assemblages and was intensively sampled for economic data. The depositional dynamics of its pit clusters are here interrogated in depth. This period saw a high number of burials and loose human bone (some worked as implements), and emphasis is duly given to the settlement’s ‘ritual logic’, which seems predominantly motivated by bird associations. With males suffering head-wound trauma, the evidence of the immediate region’s distinctly circular-plan ringwork forts is reviewed and, arguably, contestation and violence is attested.

Not only does the volume provide a summary of the development of the now widely investigated greater Trumpington/Addenbrooke’s landscape – including its major Middle Bronze Age settlements and an important Late Iron Age complex – but also it overviews recent fieldwork results from South Cambridgeshire. Aside from historiographically themed Inset sections (plus an account of the War Ditches’ Anglo-Saxon cemetery and Grantchester’s settlement of that period), there are detailed scientific analyses (e.g. DNA, isotopic and wear studies of its human bone) and more than 30 radiocarbon dates were achieved. The concluding chapter critically addresses issues of local continuity and de facto notions of ‘settlement evolution’.