People tend to think of Arbury as one of the newer areas of Cambridge, and much of it is – the city council launched a huge housebuilding drive there in the 1950s to allow the city to expand.
But beneath the bricks and mortar lie Cambridge’s Roman origins. The area has been occupied since at least Roman times. In the 1950s, stone coffins from the 2nd century were discovered, as well as the remains of a Roman villa and mausoleum. In medieval times, a decaying circular earthwork of unknown age was visible just to the north of where Arbury Road meets Histon Road (now part of Orchard Park) and was known as Hardburgh, Arborough or Arbury Camp. The earthwork was formerly around 100 metres in length, though its western half (extending into Impington) was no longer visible by the start of the 19th century. It is thought to have been an undefended Iron Age enclosure to protect animals from predators.
In medieval times, the area was common land, and local peasants were permitted to graze their sheep on the meadow between Lammas and Lady Day. In the 17th and 18th centuries the meadows were dug for earth to make bricks.