Heritage Art Project

Did you know that some amazing archaeological finds were discovered before construction started in Northstowe and on the A14 development project?

There was also a considerable number of pieces of less historical significance - mostly small pieces of Roman pottery - that would have been reburied if we didn't do something with them!

So we worked with you - our community in Northstowe and Longstanton - and project partners Homes England, Longstanton & District Heritage Society, Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, to save this material.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Homes England, Cambridgeshire County Council and Northstowe Foodies, we commissioned a local artist to work with our community, using the artefacts and our local heritage as inspiration. The material was then used to create a mosaic sculpture that will live temporarily in the Cabin (Northstowe's temporary community centre) before being relocated to the permanent Phase 1 Community Centre, accessible to all!

Chloe Leaper - Project Artist

We were delighted to appoint Willingham-based artist and sculptor, Chloe Leaper, as Project Artist for this Northstowe Heritage Art Project.

Chloe worked all sorts of inspiration into the sculpture: a Roman shrine, the RAF airfield, archaeological trenches, the façade of the Heritage Centre, constellations and more! There are two main elements to the sculpture - an upright metalwork structure, and the almost horizontal mosaic.

Chloe worked with many people in the community to develop the design of the mosaic, helping people get hands on with this Roman pottery whilst also hearing from archaeologists involved in the original dig from Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

Source inspiration for the sculpture: Roman stag head, RAF 7th Squadron crest, frontage of planned Heritage Annexe, map of RAF Oakington runways

Chloe begins to sort and investigate the discarded archaeological material

Chloe begins to design the sculpture, incorporating all the layers of heritage she has discovered

Intergenerational workshops with presentation from Cambridge Archaeological Unit and plenty of time to handle real Roman pottery as well as a collage exercise to design the mosaic

A maquette helps Chloe understand shadows, as full-size drawings help iron out final details. Unfortunately, it turns out some of the Roman pottery is water-soluble - not good for a sculpture destined for outside! Chloe investigates solutions. The base slab for the mosaic element arrives.

The metalwork arrives! Chloe decides to grind up the water-soluble Roman pottery and use as "grog" within modern clay. The planning and  laying out of the mosaic begins...

Once the pieces are laid out, Chloe begins to glue them on. A black grout is used to really emphasise the pieces of pottery

The metal has weathered nicely and the sculpture is ready for installation at the Cabin, Northstowe's temporary community centre

"A Symbol for Northstowe" is launched at the Community Centre Celebration Event on 30th September 2023!

What are the layers of the mosaic?

100 BCE - AD 300

Shrine structure

AD 1991 - 

Archaeological trenches

AD 2023 - 

Heritage Centre façade

AD 1939/40

RAF Oakington runway

AD 200 - 1658

Hard / Hind constellation

AD 21/06/2023

Planetary alignment

2000 BCE - AD 50

Round house structure

AD 476 - 1450

Medieval field furrows

Thanks to National Lottery players