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Romano-British Cardington

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. By the late Iron Age there seem to have been a number of settlements in what is now the parish of Cardington and a well worked landscape filled with field systems.

An area of Neolithic enclosures and monuments between Cople Road and the A603 [HER 585] also shows signs of Romano-British occupation. Excavations in 1951 and 1952 reportedly uncovered a hearth, and found 4th century pottery. Pottery of 2nd to 4th century date was found during field-walking in 1982. Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements south-west of Octagon Farm, which lies in Cople parish, also produced Roman pottery and a hair stylus [HER 586].

Nearby lay what has been described as a prehistoric ritual landscape, full of Neolithic mortuary enclosures and Bronze Age round barrows [HER 1480]. A Roman pottery kiln was also discovered here along with a stretch of Roman wall and a sherd of pottery.

North of Harrowden Lane [HER 9081] lies evidence of Iron Age field systems. The settlement seems to have continued into the Roman period. A site at Hillfoot Farm in the south of the parish produced a large quantity of 2nd and 3rd century pottery during construction of a gas feeder pipeline in1976 [HER 9156]. More finds turned up in 1978 including the remains of a kiln. A Roman quern stone for grinding corn was discovered at Corporation Farm [HER 12779]. It was made of Hertfordshire pudding stone.

Just east of Southill Road towards the south of the parish lay a Roman settlement [HER 18185]. When a trial trench was dug on the course of a gas feeder pipeline the site produced features from the 1st to 4th centuries. A number of enclosure and boundary ditches were found which respected a central roundhouse, that appears to have been in use for around two hundred years. There was also industry in the shape of slag and burnt clay, indicating potential metal working on site. Numerous fragments of worked stone including querns were recovered during excavation and are thought to indicate a busy agrarian economy.

A number of Roman roads may have been identified in the parish. Part of the boundary between Cardington and Cople near the southern limit of Water End, Cople, probably lay on a Roman agger. This was a slightly raised minor road with a ditch on either side [HER 11949].

The Viatores are a group dedicated to finding possible Roman roads in the modern landscape. They have identified two candidates in Cardington. One has been suggested to have run from Bedford to Cockayne Hatley and the on to Wimpole in Cambridgeshire. The road is very conjectural but stretches in Cardington and Willington do seem to show up on aerial photographs [HER 738]. The other suggested road ran from Bedford to Shefford [HER 717].