Centuries Of Activity
There is evidence of human activity in and around Soham since the Bronze Age. The parish has yielded bronze weapons and tools, and some pottery, including two urns found near an un-cremated skeleton in Clipsall field.
Early Iron Age remains and finds are scantier, but Late Iron Age and early Roman pottery was found c. 1980 south-east of the village, along with three (destroyed) ring-ditches. Pottery and tesserae has also been recovered from a Roman dwelling south of the village, while earthworks, possibly field boundaries, south of Barway suggest the existence of other habitations nearby. Soham was certainly inhabited in Anglo Saxon times, its people apparently being buried in two separate cemeteries. One, on the site of the modern churchyard, has produced cruciform brooches, perhaps mid 6th-century. Another, which lay partly within the modern burial ground off the Fordham road, was partially excavated in 1931.
This mirrors artefacts found earlier in 1865-7 by Mr R Elsden, when he discovered some Anglo Saxon beads when digging in the upper part of the cemetery. The articles included 6 brooches, 1 bronze ‘girdle hanger’, I rock crystal bead and 10 glass beads as well as other fragments too small to be recognised. The articles were later exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries, London by the Rev. C.J.Armistead, F.S.A., then curate of Soham. They were considered of sufficient importance to be noted in the society’s journal. The chief object was the girdle hanger which was engraved. All the finds now reside in the British Museum and are exhibited alongside other remains of similar character.
The Soham Town Forum Chairman has written to the British Museum about the finds described above and the Museum has corresponded and allowed the use of the ‘Soham Collection Pictures’ to be used exclusively by Forum and Soham Heritage and Tourism. In fact a replica of the girdle hanger is to be made by the British Museum to be eventually displayed by both Groups to the resident’s and community as a whole. The Soham finds will be on general exhibition again at The British Museum in Spring 2013, as the room they were housed in has undergone refurbishment.
Other excavations were carried out off Pratt Street c. 1990 and have revealed post-holes of dwellings with Saxo-Norman and later pottery from an apparently substantial settlement, besides crop marks. Stories relating to St. Felix’s relics suggest the existence of such a settlement around an abbey and minster church (later cathedral) by the early 11th century.
Other items continue to be found along what is now the A142 bypass in associated fields on either side as well as town centre based sites.
Below are some pictures of local finds, which have been loaned to Soham Heritage and Tourism for exhibition, by a private collector from Soham.