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Roman irrigation unearthed in Cambridge

The earliest known example of Roman irrigation in Britain has been discovered by archaeologists digging on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Roman irrigation unearthed in Cambridge
Archaeologists have found evidence of Roman irrigation the earliest known in Britain from
their excavations on the North West Cambridge Development [Credit: Cambridge News]
The ditches could have been used to grow grapevines or asparagus at the site of the university-led North West Cambridge development, between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road.

Chris Evans, head of the unit investigating the site, said the irrigation had been discovered on a ridgeway where settlement had begun in the late Neolithic period.

Roman irrigation unearthed in Cambridge
Britain's earliest known Roman irrigation unearthed in Cambridge - and it could
have fed grapevines [Credit: Cambridge News]
He said: “Our findings from excavating around the ridgeway have unearthed zebra-like stripes of Roman planting beds that are encircled on their higher northern side by more deep pit-wells. The gully-defined planting beds were closely set and were probably grapevines or possibly asparagus.

“Extraordinarily, after carefully peeling off the clays, we saw a series of ditches lining the wells and the horticultural beds. Clearly in dry spells, water could have been poured from the pit-wells into the ditches to reach the beds.

“This is a tremendously significant find that reflects the area’s intense agricultural regime from the Roman period.”

Author: Chris Havergal | Source: Cambridge News [March 17, 2014]

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