The Surrounding Area: Barrington

Thatched cottages in Barrington (© John Sutton)

Barrington is south west of Cambridge and has archaeological evidence dating back a very long time. A collection of prehistoric animals were found during excavations at a quarry between 1879 and 1948 and these date to before the last Ice Age. Numerous animals were represented including hyena, bear, lion, wolf, fallow deer, red deer, extinct species of elephant, giant deer, ox and an entire hippopotamus.

There are also a number of archaeological artefacts from Barrington and these include two Neolithic polished stone axes, two Bronze Age axes and a small hoard of two axes and a gouge. A Bronze Age arrow-head was found in a garden and a second was identified inside a wolf's skull. During the excavations on Edix Hill a Bronze Age burial mound was also uncovered.

Suspected Iron Age farming enclosures have been identified because of thier crop marks in the north-east corner of the parish. Stray surface finds from the same site include coins, and an iron currency bar. This site was probably important and included wide deep ditches surrounding large pits containing fragments of Iron Age pottery and animal bone. These was also a significant Roman settlement at Hooper's field.

Like Oakington, Barrington has some impressive early Anglo-Saxon burials, with two identifiable cemeteries one Hooper's field was found in the nineteenth century and the other Edix Hill was more recently excavated.

Hooper's Field cemetery was found in 1880 it contained 114 inhumation graves, plus a small number of cremations. Because of its early discovery the artefacts were not recorded in association with their burials – in 1880 the science of archaeological excavation was only just beginning - but it is possible to suggest that a number of the females would have been buried with saucer brooches, bird brooches, and small long brooches, in pairs at the shoulder and metal wrist-clasps to secure their sleeves. Glass and amber beads were also a common grave finds, with occasional bracelets and a singular roman finger-ring. Also, on this site there were fifteen men buried with spears and two of these also had a sword associated with them. Some men were buried with a shield, but only the central iron boss survived in the soil. Other finds from this site include the copper binding of two wooden buckets, one was found with a wealthy man and one with a wealthy woman. In total only thirty-one graves were unfurnished (without artefacts) and this included most of the children.

The second cemetery associated with Barrington was on Edix Hill and this was excavated by professional archaeologists in more modern times. Like Oakington there have been various stages to this project and in total 149 graves were excavated. Grave goods consisted mainly of jewellery worn by woman, and precious materials such as Baltic amber, Indian garnets and ivory as well as Central European crystal was identified. Men were commonly buried with a spear and occasionally a shield, and also smaller items like buckles and tweezers. The majority of the burials had a knife at the waist and some children were buried with whole pots (just like at Oakington). There were 619 pathological occurrences amongst the 148 skeletons; with arthopathies (joint diseases) and dental disease being the most prominent. Edix Hill also had two examples of females buried lying on wooden beds that contained iron fittings. These bed burials are usually considered to be seventh century and so the Edix Hill community probably continued to use this cemetery for a generation or two after the last burial within Oakington site. Just like at Oakington many of the individuals at Edix Hill shared skeletal characteristics which help archaeologist to explore their biological relatedness.

Despite its two cemeteries at Doomsday Barrington was a lot smaller than Oakington and was probably a very similar size population in the eleventh century as it did in the sixth century with 54 recorded families living in the village. This had nearly doubled to 107 families by 1279 and the population reached its pre-modern peak of 727 by 1821.