Map of test pits from the Willingham dig

Archaeological finds from thousands of years ago have been uncovered in a Cambridge village in an event which was part of the celebrations of the University's 800th Anniversary.

It was so exciting to be able to find these amazing artefacts and then have experts on hand telling you exactly what they were.

Victoria Richards

Residents of Willingham, near Cottenham, Cambridgeshire were joined by people from across the country and led by experts from the University of Cambridge during the two day dig.

People of all ages took their turn at digging; the youngest participant was just 18 months, the oldest being over 70 years old.

Teams dug 25 tonnes of soil out of 30 test pits in 25 different gardens around the village throughout the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, all of the participants got together to show what they had found and hear the experts explain what it all meant.

The finds have helped experts form a better idea of the history of the village.

Different objects that relate back to specific eras have helped develop a better idea of population in the village. For example, in the Roman period, people appear to have spent much of their time living at either end of the present village whereas a couple of centuries later they were living in its centre.

Four previously unknown areas of medieval settlement scattered across the present village were found over the weekend, along with the discovery that the community was hit very hard by disasters such as the Black Death suggested by the lack of pottery found from the period after the 1300's.

The event was led by Access Cambridge Archaeology at the University of Cambridge Department of Archaeology and co-ordinated by Fen Edge Archaeology group, an organisation that is interested in finding out about the history of the local area through landscape features and archaeology.

Dr Carenza Lewis, head of Access Cambridge Archaeology , said: 'Digging 30 pits in one weekend is an amazing achievement, as most people had never dug like this before. We know so much more about the village than we did before. Everyone's had a great time, and has enjoyed working with the University on this project!'

Not only was the event successful in uncovering history in the area, it was a chance for people to meet with neighbours and friends and try something completely new to them.

Victoria Richards, a resident of Willingham said: 'It was so exciting to be able to find these amazing artefacts and then have experts on hand telling you exactly what they were. We've learnt so much in such a short time!'

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