The Lost Windmills of Cherry Hinton – Michelle Bullivant


On 14 October, in the Stapleford Pavilion, Michelle Bullivant, a trained archaeologist, gave a most interesting illustrated talk taking as her starting point part of the entry about Cherry Hinton in the Domesday Book (1086)

In addition to four slaves there were four mills! One pair of mill stones indicate one mill building but four pairs of mill stones do not necessarily mean that there were four mill buildings. Cherry Hinton might have had one large mill. Such a mill, or mills, must have been powered by water as wind mills were not introduced until a century later and water mills were located near fording points. The search for a suitable location began.

The southern end of Cherry Hinton village was known as Mill End and the Spring Head was a natural pool near the Robin Hood pub. The man-made water courses in the Cherry Hinton Hall park are linked into the natural waterways, so an inevitable deduction was made that the mill(s) were most likely to have been in that area. The square shaped ‘island’ among the water courses was the most likely site of the mill(s) as an 1806 map shows that some building remains were there, even though the site of any mill(s) was disused by 1451 when the vicar at the time owned the site.

The excavation of the site was undertaken by students from St Bede’s School under the supervision of qualified archaeologists from Active8 Archaeology. They uncovered a variety of items: pieces of clunch, metal tongs, buckles, pieces of brick and tiles together with, of course, mill stones. One large mill stone was next to the main door of Cherry Hinton Hall and has been re-sited in the grounds. It now makes an interesting seat.

Jane Steadman