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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Exhibition banner showing a copper alloy face on the left, the exhibition title in the centre and a map of Cambridgeshire with pins indicating the location of archaeological finds on the right.


21 June 2023 - 22 September 2024

Li Ka Shing Gallery, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Free entry


About the exhibition

Beneath Our Feet: Archaeology of the Cambridge Region is an exciting new exhibition coming soon to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The displays explore what local archaeological discoveries can tell us about the lives of those who walked this landscape centuries before us.

The exhibition includes objects from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s collection, as well as loans from: The British Museum, the Fox family, Girton College, Cambridge, Museum of Cambridge, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, Oxford Archaeology, Cambridgeshire County Council and Robert Law.

Material on display includes Neolithic axes, textile fibres which are remarkable survivors from the Bronze Age, a mysterious Roman lead tank which continues to baffle experts, the stunning burial goods of a teenage girl from the early medieval period, evidence of one of Cambridge’s medieval friaries, a 17th century Germanic Bellarmine jug (which were often reused as so-called witch bottles) and much more!

Silver Strap End, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire. Early Medieval, 9th – early 10th century. MAA 2018.98.

Sherd from a Grimstone ware jug depicting a human face, Wintringham, Cambridgeshire. 14th Century. MAA 1977.755.

Bronze strap slide depicting a male head in profile. West Wickham, Cambridgeshire. Possibly Roman. MAA 2015.65.


The exhibition features results of the latest scientific research; particularly the isotopic analysis of the bones and teeth of a 7th Century teenage girl, whose burial was discovered in 2012. The analysis revealed not only her European origins, but also her approximate age when she moved to Britain and the state of her health prior to her death. When excavated by Cambridge Archaeological Unit she was found to have been buried lying on a bed, one of only 18 so-called bed burials (where the individual was laid to rest on a bed, indicating they were a person of importance) discovered in the UK. For the first time a Forensic artist’s likeness of the mysterious girl will be on display alongside the grave goods she was buried with. These include the gold and garnet Trumpington Cross, another rare discovery. For more information about the Trumpington Cross and what scientific research has revealed about the life of its owner click here.

Reconstruction of the face of the girl buried with the Trumpington Cross. Image credit: Hew Morrison.


People have puzzled over Cambridgeshire’s past for hundreds of years.

Beneath our feet are the traces of where people have lived, worked and died for thousands of years in Cambridgeshire. By selecting specific times, places and individuals we aim to provide a snapshot of what life might have been like and how we know about it.

When the archaeologist Cyril Fox set out on his bicycle 100 years ago to investigate Cambridgeshire’s past, he could never have predicted how much our knowledge would grow. New technologies and scientific techniques mean that we can reveal details of past lives that would have been unthinkable even a few decades ago. Many different people – archaeologists, farmworkers, metal detectorists, ordinary people out for a walk – have contributed and continue to do so as new discoveries are made every day.

From people’s back gardens to scientific laboratories, the past is everywhere.                                                                                                                


Spiral bracelet with moulded animal head ornament, Snailwell, Cambridgeshire. Late Iron Age/Early Roman. MAA 1953.25.


Further Information

To discover more about how this exhibition was created you can read a Q&A with its curator, Dr Jody Joy, over on our Digital Lab blog.



You can read Current Archaeology's September 2023 review of the exhibition here, whilst museum volunteer Les Andrews wrote a blog post review for the MAA's Digital Lab in October 2023, which can be found here.



Beneath Our Feet: Archaeology of the Cambridge Region was curated and designed by Dr Jody Joy, Senior Curator in European Archaeology, with Imogen Gunn, Collections Manager for Archaeology, and Eleanor Wilkinson, Teaching and Collections Assistant for Archaeology. Graphic design by Clare Barry.

This exhibition was made possible through a Headley Fellowship with Art Fund.

We are extremely grateful to everyone at Brewers for supplying the paint for this exhibition, especially to Lauren Gordon.

We are indebted to the institutions and individuals who have loaned objects to this exhibition: The British Museum, the Fox family, Girton College, Cambridge, Museum of Cambridge, Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, Oxford Archaeology, Cambridgeshire County Council and Robert Law.

We are very grateful and thankful for the support and advice of the Fox family: Charles Scott Fox, George Scott Fox and Lesley Findlay.

Thanks to everyone at the Cambridge Archaeology Unit, especially Matt Brudenell, Mark Knight, Chris Wakefield and Dave Webb, and the Cambridgeshire County Council Historic Environment Team, particularly Sally Croft and Justin Wiles. Many thanks also to Tom Phillips at Oxford Archaeology, Iain Stewart from the National Trust and members of the After the Plague Project.

We are grateful to the following people for providing invaluable information, advice and support: Sophia Adams, Oscar Aldred, Andrew David, Chris Evans, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Colin Haselgrove, Ian Mason, Janet Morris, Keith Ray, John Robb, Lisa Robson, Niall Sharples, John Stanford, Simon Stoddart and Rob Wiseman.

Many thanks also to the members of the University of Cambridge Community Panel for their comments and advice, and to Jennifer Bull and Niki Hughes for facilitating our discussion.

Thank you to all our expert contributors: Aimee Adams, Christopher Boulton, Emma Brownlee, Nicole Church, Mike Cuddeford, Helen Fowler, Susanna Harris, Shannon Hogan, Sam Leggett, Elizabeth Middleton, Hew Morrison, Hannah Pighills, Max Ratcliffe, Iona Robinson Zeki, Alice Rose, Lu Speariett and Heather Turner.