Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Beneath Our Feet

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a free to visit museum located in the city of Cambridge. The museum has hundreds of artefacts, some up to 5000 years old, and frequently have new and exciting exhibitions.

The museum currently has an exhibition called “Beneath Our Feet. Archaeology of the Cambridge region.” The exhibition, as the name suggests, explores the history of Cambridgeshire through artefacts found just beneath the ground, in fields, back gardens, universities, and many other unexpected places. Cambridgeshire is a region filled to the brim with history, being inhabited by humans since before the Romans. The area was famously inhabited at points by the Iceni tribe, led by the warrior queen Boudicca, before the Romans set up the settlement of Duroliponte at the centre of multiple roman roads and the river which allowed for a rich trade culture. The city is most famous for Cambridge University, one of the top universities in the world, which was first established in 1209 and the first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although it wasn’t officially granted city status until 1951.

Cabridge, when first settled on, was an incredibly marshy area, this led to artefacts from the first settlers such as the Romans and Iceni tribe being buried so deep, they are still being discovered today. Cambridge was also a very popular trading town meaning we have found items from all over the world, all over Cambridgeshire. “Beneath Our Feet” gives us an insight into the lives of those who have lived in the area we live in, hundreds of years before us. The exhibition explores the lives of different people, from the objects a sixteen year old girl was buried with in Trumpington in the Early Medieval period, to the actual skeleton of a woman around the age of 45 who was buried with an iron bar placed over her neck, a burial tradition for those suspected to be witches, so if they were to be raised from the dead they’d be decapitated, preventing further damage. It also has a section on the historian Cyril fox, who cycled around Cambridgeshire, aiming on discovering the secrets of the area’s ancient history. They have artefacts from all over the Cambridge region, the city itself, Arrington, Girton, and Whittlesey.

I recently explored the exhibition myself and it was such an interesting and enlightening experience. I found it particularly interesting as it linked to my studies, I did during History GCSEs and also just found it an amazing way to learn more about the area I grew up in. When you live somewhere for a long period of time it is easy to assume you know it’s history and all that comes with it, however this experience shows that there is always more under the surface (literally). The museum is also great for non-locals, whether you live in England, or know someone visiting from out of the country. It is an amazing way to learn more about a small county in East Anglia, somewhere famous for its university, but has so much more to explore.

The museum is free to enter and also has many other artefacts from all over the world such as the Pacific, South and North America, Africa, and Asia. It’s a great experience for all ages, not being too large but can easily keep kids fascinated for a while. I highly recommend everyone to visit as it is a fantastic local experience that not enough people know about.


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