AstraZeneca reveals findings of archaeological dig as build gets underway at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Thursday, 11 June 2015

AstraZeneca today announced the findings of archaeological excavations on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which will be home to the Company’s new, purpose-built global R&D centre and corporate headquarters from the end of 2016.

The excavations were conducted over an eight month period between July 2014 and March 2015, and were required before building work began on AstraZeneca’s new facility in April 2015. They revealed that the Company’s site on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus was a thriving settlement during the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period. The main findings were:

  • Pottery and flint dating back to the Early Neolithic period in the 4th millennium BC.
  • The outline of a Bronze Age enclosure, as well as artefacts such as animal bone, worked flint, metal objects and over 500 pottery shards dating to approximately 1500 to 1100 BC. Metalwork found on the site included tools such as chisels and awls as well as a spearhead, which represent rare and important finds from this period.
  • Evidence of Iron Age settlements, including the remains of a number of structures likely to date back to this period between 600 and 100 BC.
  • A dense pattern of ditches, enclosures and postholes indicating building plots associated with Roman settlement activity. Artefacts discovered here included pottery and coins suggesting that there was a settlement at the site for much of the Romano-British period, from the first to the fourth century AD.
  • Nearly 6,000 fragments of pottery, including shards from jars, dishes, flagons and other large vessels originating from the local area and from Central and Southern France and the Rhineland.
  • A large quantity of metalwork, including Roman coins ranging in date from the first to the fourth century AD, an iron cleaver and personal items such as a copper alloy bracelet and military buckle.
  • Two small cemeteries, one dating to the first or second century AD and containing four cremation burials in pottery vessels and one, made up of five graves, dating to the fourth century AD. Among the personal effects found in the graves was a rare, fully intact glass unguent bottle likely imported from the Mediterranean.

The excavations were carried out by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. All artefacts discovered during the dig are currently being analysed by specialists and a full report detailing the findings will be submitted to Cambridge City Council in early August.

AstraZeneca’s new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters in Cambridge will be home to approximately 2,000 employees and will become the company’s largest centre for oncology research, as well as housing scientists focused on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases and conditions of the central nervous system. It will also be home to a joint research centre, which will see Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK scientists working side-by-side with AstraZeneca’s high throughput screening group.

Designs of the new site on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, as well as images of some of the finds from the archaeological excavation are available on the Company’s website.


About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:



Media Enquiries

Esra Erkal-Paler (UK/Global) +44 20 7604 8030
Ayesha Bharmal (UK/Global) +44 20 7604 8034


Investor Enquiries UK  
Thomas Kudsk Larsen

+44 20 7604 8199

mob: +44 7818 524185


Eugenia Litz

(Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity)

+44 20 7604 8233

mob: +44 7884 735627

Nick Stone

(Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease)

+44 17 6326 3994

mob: +44 7717 618834

Karl Hård


+44 20 7604 8123

mob: +44 7789 654364

Craig Marks

(Infection, Neuroscience and Gastrointestinal Disease)

+44 20 7604 8591

mob: +44 7881 615764

Christer Gruvris

+44 20 7604 8126

mob: +44 7827 836825


  • Science