X marks the spot as five medieval windmills found

The remains of five medieval windmills and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery have been unearthed during an excavation.

The finds were made at a site between Cherry Hinton and Teversham, Cambridgeshire, ahead of a development of 1,200 homes.

People were using the site as far back as the Neolithic era, but the discovery of so many windmills in one place was particularly unusual, according to archaeologist Christopher Wakefield.

"They are really cool finds as X really does mark the spot - the main foundation is made up of a cross to make the support for the windmill post," he said.

"It's a great project that has everything from pre-history to really interesting mills," said Dr Wakefield, from the University if Cambridge's archaeological unit.

The Anglo-Saxon cemetery dated to between AD580 to AD700 and had the remains of about 60 people, one with a cowrie shell from the Red Sea, between Arabia and North Africa.

Other finds ranged from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age (2100 to 2150BC), through the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, revealing 3,000 years-worth of human activity.

Dr Wakefield said: "It's the first time I've excavated a medieval mill and you can see where two big pieces of timber called cross trees were put into the ground."

The main post of the windmills, which date from 1300 to 1500 , were used to grind grain which would have been attached to the foundation and the sail attached to that, he explained.

Dr Wakefield said: "The ridge [they were located on] was one of the highest points in the area and the perfect location for a windmill as they got the maximum amount of wind."

As the excavation progressed, it became apparent four of the structures came from different time periods, with two built on top of each other.

"We think that as they were made of wood, they would deteriorate over time, so a new one would be built nearby, salvaging as much wood from the old one as possible," said Dr Wakefield.

Cambridge Archaeological Unit have been excavating the site ahead of Bellway Latimer's Springstead Village development and its students were allowed to help excavate the mills - found just last month.

Dr Wakefield said: "The department has been having difficulties finding places for students to dig and the developer went above and beyond to get them on the site and to have that opportunity."

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