Human remains found during archaeological excavation at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

The discovery was made during ongoing excavation at the College, ahead of the construction of their new accommodation block


Archaeological excavations at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge have uncovered human remains, as well as several other Roman artefacts, such as pottery and a metal vessel.

The College’s announcement on 11th May stated that the presence of these “two human inhumation burials”, suspected to be Roman, was “not unexpected”, as Romans “typically buried their dead beside roads outside of their settlement.”

They added that the bodies had been excavated with “the due care and respect that human burials require.” The skeletons will be now studied in the lab “to try to gain some understanding of their age, sex and diet.”

Archeologists dig around a skeleton

Archaeologists uncovering the remains (Image Credit: Lucy Cavendish College)

The College is undertaking the excavations, which include archaeological desk-based assessment and archaeological evaluation trenching, ahead of the construction of the College’s new student accommodation building, “Passivhaus.”

Since work on the site began in January, archaeologists have also uncovered “various other pots, post holes and ditches” and “a large quantity of Roman pottery”, in addition to a “cobbled surface”, which is thought to have been a Roman road.

Amongst these other artefacts discovered since the excavation started, a metal vessel has also been retrieved that has been seen in “tantalising detail” in X-rays. The College say it will now be “excavated carefully” in the lab.

The College have said that they are undertaking these excavations before construction as there is a “potential for Roman remains” throughout the area – the College is located just outside the Roman town in Cambridge, and previous excavations in the area have uncovered cooking pits, pottery fragments and a variety of coins. These excavations will also “support the planning application” for the new build.

Dr Corinne Duhig, Director of Studies in Archaeology at the College, said: “I am not surprised at these finds, but very excited as it contributes to our good but patchy knowledge of the Roman town and everyday life of the time.”

a tweet from Lucy Cavendish college with an image of the metal vessel

The college will analyse the findings in their labs (Image Credit: Lucy Cavendish College)

The programme of “detailed hand excavation and recording of items”, agreed with Cambridgeshire County Council, is ongoing, and will be completed over the next few weeks.

Following completion, all recovered artefacts will be “analysed and studied in detail”, with results being published in the Cambridgeshire Archaeological Journal in the coming months.

Feature image credit: Lucy Cavendish College