Thursday, June 24, 2010

Project reveals 1300 years of history for Peterborough and its Cathedral

A ‘treasure trove’ of ancient records dating back over 1,300 years to the origins of the English city of Peterborough will be unveiled at Peterborough Cathedral’s Deanery on Saturday 3 July at 12 noon.

The archaeological records, maps, drawings and photographs focusing on the Cathedral Precincts have been compiled under a joint project by the Cathedral and Peterborough City Council.

Archaeologists and planning officers have compiled the records, which will eventually be made available online, with support from English Heritage, the Church Commissioners, the Institute for Archaeologists, the Anthony Mellows Memorial Trust and the Marc Fitch Fund.

The Dean of Peterborough, the Very Reverend Charles Taylor, said: “We are delighted that the partnership between the Cathedral and the city council means this fascinating survey is now ready to be launched into the public domain. We are grateful to all who have worked on the project and I hope that many people will now take the opportunity to find out more about Peterborough's rich history and heritage.”

City council deputy leader Councillor Matthew Lee added: “The Cathedral Precincts area contains archaeological remains dating from the establishment of the first abbey in the Anglo-Saxon era. The compilation of these historical documents brings together a valuable resource that will benefit academic and casual students of the city’s heritage.”

The project was undertaken by a team led by cathedral archaeologist Dr Jackie Hall and former city council archaeologist Dr Ben Robinson. They were helped by Matt Bradley of Oxford Archaeology, who re-surveyed the Precincts.

Dr Hall said: “For local history and archaeology enthusiasts, for students, school children and heritage professionals, this project marks a big step forwards in our knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of the abbey, the city and the cathedral.

“The project has assembled hundreds of diverse images and documents including buildings that have vanished, Victorian excavations, ancient maps or World War II bomb shelters. Some of the records are already available and they will shortly be accessible online.

Dr Rebecca Casa-Hatton, the city council’s historic environment record officer, added: “Peterborough’s origins date from the founding of an Anglo-Saxon Abbey in 655 AD on the site of what is today the cathedral so we hope people have fun investigating its origins and archaeology.”

The material examined includes medieval historical documents, photographs, engravings, archaeological and architectural drawings, newspaper cuttings and cathedral chapter minutes. When it is fully online, people will be able to conduct an armchair survey from the comfort of their home. Additional guidance will also be available from Peterborough Museum or the local studies room at Peterborough Central Library.

For more information about the project contact Dr Hall via the Peterborough Cathedral Chapter Office (Telephone: 01733 355315 or email or Dr Casa-Hatton (Telephone: 01733 864702 or email

Source: Peterborough City Council