Archaeologists set to dig for history

THESE foundations might be all that remain of some of Ipswich's oldest buildings. But though visible today they are unlikely to be around forever.Though earmarked for development, the St Peters Port site, close to Ipswich waterfront, has already been described by archaeologists as potentially one of the most important historical sites in the town.

THESE foundations might be all that remain of some of Ipswich's oldest buildings.

But though visible today they are unlikely to be around forever.

Though earmarked for development, the St Peters Port site, close to Ipswich waterfront, has already been described by archaeologists as potentially one of the most important historical sites in the town.

And a multi million pound archaeological dig is today set to delay ambitious plans for a massive building programme0 on the site.

The excavation work, which will be carried out by Suffolk County Council's archaeologists, could cost up to £2m and take at least a year.

Keith Wade, archaeological service manager for Suffolk County Council, said: “It's got everything there, from the Anglo-Saxon occupation, from the 7th century onwards and the medieval priory of St. Peter's and St. Paul's of 1130 to 1528 and Cardinal Wolsey's College, of which we still have Wolsey's gate.

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“We also believe there are about 1,000 burials from medieval times and the 1700s to 1800s.”

The archaeological service has under taken all the excavation work in Ipswich town and Mr Wade said although development was inevitable it was sometimes a shame to lose such valuable material.

He said: “We are going to try to preserve what we can but things like St Peter's Port are difficult because where you've got underground car parking, it's impossible.”

“But when you think how valuable town centre land is it's probably unrealistic to have these things saved.”

He said it is likely they will be able to discover valuable information during the dig of both a local interest to Ipswich and of a wider historical importance.

He said: “We can learn quite a bit, such as the proportion of men compared with women, birth and death rates as well as diseases of the time and how people died.”

The work will be a compulsory part of the planning application agreement expected to be given to developers Braceforce Limited by Ipswich Borough Council later this month.

Braceforce plan to build a £100 million hotel and retail development on the Ipswich waterfront which will include three hotels, an underground 420 space public car park and retail space.

The development is thought to be the most expensive commercial building ever built in Suffolk.

George Newly, the overall site manager for the project at Braceforce, said: “We want to do everything we can to make sure anything of archaeological importance to the town and to the towns well being is preserved.

“The development plans are in progress at the moment but nothing will happen until the end of the dig, plans could be delayed depending on what the finds are.”

The entire area of the 5,000 sq ft site must now be excavated before Braceforce are able to get to work on the development.

Do you think it is important to preserve Ipswich's heritage and history?

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Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

>In the last 18 months archaeologists working on the waterfront area of Ipswich have found houses and rubbish pits dating from the Anglo Saxon period of the 7th and 11th Century as well as pots believed to carry wine which was imported from the Rhineland to the old international port at the Ipswich docks.

>Archaeologists believe the Ipswich port was exporting wool and cloth in return from the port as early as 800AD.

King Charlemagne or Charles the Great, a European King from 800AD, is documented by historians making a complaint about the length of English cloaks, thought to have come from the Ipswich port, being too short.

>1,000 burials are expected to be uncovered during the dig at St. Peter's Port, 300 of which could originate from the old Quaker meeting house in 1700 to 1855 and another 600 from the Priory of St Peter's from 1130 to 1528.

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