Ancient pathway unveiled

ARCHAELOGISTS working at Ipswich Waterfront believe they have found the remains of a pavement dating back more than a thousand years.The dig at the site of the former Cranfields grain mill has found evidence of an Anglo-Saxon woven pathway which is believed to date back to the tenth century.

ARCHAELOGISTS working at Ipswich Waterfront believe they have found the remains of a pavement dating back more than a thousand years.

The dig at the site of the former Cranfields grain mill has found evidence of an Anglo-Saxon woven pathway which is believed to date back to the tenth century.

And they may also have found a revetment which was built beside the river at the same time - part of the original port that was the reason for the foundation of the oldest English town in the Dark Ages.

Further along, on the Albion Maltings site, the same team has uncovered evidence of medieval buildings and is hoping to make further finds over the next two months.


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Suffolk county archaeologist Keith Wade said the sites were providing interesting finds despite the damage that had been caused by building work over the centuries.

He said: “There is quite a bit of damage, which is frustrating. Some is from the earlier work when industrial buildings were put up, some is from the recent demolition work.

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“But we have to live with that - there is still quite a bit of interest for us.”

The nearer the archaeologists get to Stoke Bridge, the more interesting and older finds they turn up.

The town was founded as Gipeswic by the Anglo-Saxons because it was the lowest point at which the River Orwell could crossed and the first settlement was built around what is now Stoke Bridge.

“When redevelopment work starts on the sites right next to the bridge, there should be some great finds - but of course there is always the danger that things will be damaged in the demolition work,” said Mr Wade.

He expects to spend about another two months on the Albion site and about a month at Cranfields - but insisted that the archaeologists' work was not holding up redevelopment.

“There is still quite a lot of work to be done to clear the sites and I don't think our presence is an issue at either,” he said.

The walkway itself has been covered in damp mud for 1,000 years and to preserve the wood, it is necessary to cover it in water most of the time.

It is only exposed when archaeologists want to carry out more investigations - and will eventually be covered again to allow construction work on the site to get under way.

Saxon Suffolk facts:

Stoke Bridge was the lowest point at which the river was crossed for more than 1,000 years - until the Orwell Bridge was opened in December 1982.

Ipswich is the oldest continuously-inhabited town in England, and the first English town. It was originally known as Gipeswic. Colchester fell into dereliction after the Romans left and was later re-inhabited by Anglo-Saxons.

Suffolk and Norfolk were inhabited by Angles who came over from Germany in the Dark Ages. They were the East Angles and split into South Folk and North Folk - hence the modern names of the counties

The invaders who landed south of what is now the River Stour were from a different German tribe, the Saxons. They became known as the East Saxons - a name later shortened to Essex.

In 991 Gipeswic was sacked by Vikings on their way to the Battle of Maldon.

Source: www.anglo-saxons.net, Evening Star archives.

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