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March 2023 Meeting Report

The Parr House, by Alison Dickens

The speaker at the meeting on 9 March was Alison Dickens whose subject was the community archaeological excavation at the David Parr House in Cambridge.

Alison explained the background to the ownership of the plot on which the house is built, from Shingay Priory through to secular landowners such as James Sturton. The plot was part of the Cambridge field system until the area was developed in the later 19th century.

The excavation consisted of 16 pits, each 80 cm square and the work was carried out by volunteers, who shifted 4.7 tons of soil. The finds were all carefully washed and recorded. There were some burnt stones and flints from pre-Roman times, no Roman remains, some Anglo-Saxon pottery shards and more and more pottery from succeeding periods. Clay pipes from the 17th-19th centuries suggested that the land was more intensively farmed at that time.

Most of the material came from the period of the lifetime of the house and included mineral water bottles, flower pots, a few coins, trouser buttons found beneath where the clothes line ran, guinea pig skeletons, an Enid Blyton Magazine badge, a dog tag and a foot from a Mr Potato Head dated precisely to 1953!

Mary Dicken

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