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Archaeological Dig


Partney's importance is shown by the fact that two major medieval roads (now the A16 and the A158) met at a T-junction in the centre of the village.   In recent years the amount of traffic passing through has been increasing, especially in the summer holidays when people visit nearby coastal resorts. The opening of the Partney bypass in 2005 was an historic day for the village after a 69 year battle, and the discovery of artefacts of archaeological importance made the project even more significant.

The first stage in the construction of the bypass commenced in 2002. An assessment of the proposed bypass route was carried out which looked at old documentary records and maps of the area, previous archaeological work and aerial photographs. This was followed by a geophysical survey along the entire proposed road scheme.

Several sites of interest were identified and during 2003 and 2004 archaeologists from Cambridgeshire County Council, led by Rob Atkins, carried out excavations.

Two sites in particular have been declared by English Heritage to be of national importance. The first is part of a major Iron Age to Roman settlement which includes a temple or shrine and the second is part of a medieval rural hospital or chapel.

Rob Atkins, archaeological project officer, of the Cambridgeshire Archaeological Field Unit, said: "Everyone involved did a very good job and it is all still going well. We have done the assessment report and the full report will be out soon.

The chapel was probably built by Gilbert de Gaunt, William the Conqueror's nephew, in around 1087. It lay to the west of the modern village, and by the early 12th century had become part of a hospital dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. The hospital was a cell of Bardney Abbey and would have had at least two monks, one of whom would have acted like a priest.

Remains of more than 40 bodies were found in the chapel cemetery and would have belonged to hospital workers, monks and priests.

The two settlements found during the excavation which date back to Iron Age and Roman Times were in use from about the 1st Century BC to the late 4th Century AD or possibly the early 5th Century. A shrine was found near the settlements, and the remains of four burials nearby. A stream and two tributaries of the River Lymn were also discovered, as well as many ancient tools and artefacts.

A golden coin dating back to the early 15th century was found which would have originally been worth £130 in modern money.