Toft Historical Society
The pit teams get started
The Toft Archaeological dig was part of the All Our Stories project. The Toft exercise was known locally as The Big Dig. Read about Toft's involvement in the All Our Stories project.
The All Our Stories Project (2013)
Walking the fields to plan the dig, winter 2013
Marking out pits
In 2013, the Toft Historical Society received a UK National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to carry out a major archaeological investigation in the village, digging exploratory pits in two phases and gathering finds which were analysed by experts at Cambridge University.
An interesting archaeological discovery
Charles Babington’s (1883) Ancient Cambridgeshire, or an Attempt to Trace Roman and other Ancient Roads that Passed through the County of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge Antiquarian Society) contains the following information:
“… Toft church, near which remains were found at a place called Priory Field, not far from the brook, in December 1851, by some labourers digging gravel. At about three feet below the surface they found seven skeletons. Six of the bodies had been placed side by side with their feet towards the west, and the seventh lay across their legs. Fragments of Roman pottery, a portion of a lamp and pateræ (1) were found close by the skeletons.”
(1) A patera is a broad, shallow saucer or dish
This is a selection of photographs from the dig. For more pictures, click the TOURS button on the Toft Historypin page.
Reporting the finds to the village meeting.
Toft in Domesday Book (1086)
Toft appears in 3 entries in Domesday Book.
Total population: 23 households (quite large).
Total tax assessed: 4.9 geld units (quite large).
Head of manor: Swavesey.
Taxable units: Taxable value 2.3 geld units.
Value: Value to lord in 1066 £2.
Value to lord c. 1070 £3.
Value to lord in 1086 £4.
Households: 5 villagers. 2 slaves. 2 cottagers.
Ploughland: 4 ploughlands (land for).
1 lord's plough teams. 4 men's plough teams.
Other resources: 1.06 lord's lands. Meadow 2 ploughs.
Lord in 1066: Edeva the fair.
Lord in 1086: Count Alan of Brittany.
Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Count Alan of Brittany.
Toft Domesday records and modern translations
Finds included flint from the prehistoric era, sherds of Romano-British pottery, early, middle and late Anglo-Saxon and Medieval pottery. A sharp decline in pottery finds and a contraction of settlement in the 13th - 16th centuries can be put down to various factors, including climate deterioration, economic recession, wars and The Black Death. Pottery finds showed a steady recovery in the 16th - 18th centuries.
Recommended reading on the early settlement of the Bourn Valley: Oosthuizen, S. (2006) Landscapes Decoded: The Origins and Development of Cambridgeshire’s Medieval Fields. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.
Read a detailed history of Toft Parish at British History Online.
Sorting the finds