Planning Case Study 18

Wimpole Hall, Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire


Planning scenario(s)

1 - Pre-determination assessment/evaluation identified significant new heritage assets - Pre-determination assessment/evaluation identified significant archaeology on the development site (i.e. the results created significant new knowledge), especially where none was previously known in the HER.
7 - Pre-commencement archaeological conditions were attached to a planning permission - Pre-commencement archaeological conditions were attached to a planning permission and were necessary in order to enable the development to be permitted.

Heritage assets affected

Undesignated heritage assets with archaeological interest

Type of application & broad category


Local planning authority

Authority: South Cambridgeshire District Council
References: S/1543/17/E1, S/2214/17/FL

Development proposal

New car park and entrance buildings at Lamp Hill, Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property.

Archaeological information known about the site before the planning application was made, or before the development commenced, as appropriate

There was no HER data for the development site itself.

The surrounding landscape contains Iron Age and Romano-British settlements and field systems. Several areas of deserted medieval and later settlement, together with elements of their contemporary agricultural landscapes, are present on the estate, two of which are scheduled monuments, at Thresham End and Bennall End.

The site is adjacent to the estate of Wimpole Hall, a mid 17th century house and a Grade I listed building. The landscape surrounding the house is a Registered Park and Garden, and there are other listed buildings in the grounds.

Archaeological/planning processes

A geophysical survey was commissioned in 2015 and revealed extensive enclosures suggesting Iron Age-Roman settlement.

Subsequently, a local amateur group fieldwalked the site, recovering a small amount of abraded Roman pottery.

Evaluation trenching revealed a well-preserved and extensive late Iron Age / early Roman rural settlement.

Outcomes: archaeological

Planning permission was given with a pre-commencement planning condition to secure a programme of archaeolog ical investigation. Full archaeological excavation (of 11 weeks duration) was undertaken in advance of the development.

A previously unknown late Iron Age-early Roman settlement was revealed, part of a larger settlement that extends to the south and west of the site. The settlement has links to Roman military activity in the area (it lies close to the Ermine Street and Akeman Street Roman roads) and is very rich in finds including metalwork; it functioned as a trading post and may have even garrisoned military personnel.

Other outcomes/outputs e.g. other public benefit such as public engagement, research and new/changed work practices

Wimpole Hall is a National Trust property, very well visited, and had an excellent archaeological site to showcase. Therefore, to maximise the public and research benefit from this project, an archaeology and community programme was incorporated into the work during the excavation in 2018, in response to the Local Authority brief.

A two-week student excavation was carried out in advance of the main excavation. During the latter 62 volunteers worked on the site; there were twice daily guided tours (about 40 with an average of 50 visitors per tour); "two open days at weekends reached a further 500+ people; family archaeology trails around Wimpole Hall and evening talks on post-excavation" were delivered. In total there were over 2,000 visitors to the excavation.

Follow-up work with the National Trust is intended to maximise the results of the excavation (to date the largest NT-funded archaeology project) and to display the results of the excavation and the finds on site, providing a prehistoric and Roman story to the Wimpole Hall visitor experience.

With agreement from the LPA the final outputs from the project will not only be an archaeology report and publication, but a focus also on public archaeology, display and the wider media to maximise the value and the reach of the information recovered from the site.

References and links/bibliography

  • Cranfield University Forensic Institute 2015, Geophysical Survey of land at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, Lamp Hill Field. Unpublished report 127.
  • Oxford Archaeology East 2016, Late Iron Age and Roman Settlement at Lamp Hill, Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, Archaeological Evaluation. Unpublished report 2000.