Dig reveals village's ancient history

GROUNDBREAKING evidence has been unearthed that sheds new light on the ancient history of a Suffolk village.

GROUNDBREAKING evidence has been unearthed that sheds new light on the ancient history of a Suffolk village.

Scientists are today analysing artefacts from a previously unknown medieval settlement in Capel St Mary.

The dig also found objects dating back to the Bronze Age, which may be proof of one of the earliest inhabited sites in the area.

The Cambridge Archaeological Unit at the city's university was commissioned by Orwell Housing Association to excavate land off Thorney Road ahead of the construction of 32 flats and bungalows.

The earliest remains comprised several pits containing pottery and flint tools dating from the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago.

It is hoped a probe of plant remains will be able to reveal whether the area was permanently settled. If this proves to be the case, the site would be one of the earliest known in the area.

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Finds from the Iron Age include the remains of two round houses, pottery, and animal bones dating 2,000 to 2,200 years ago.

More recent activity on the site has been provisionally dated to between 1200AD and 1400AD.

The discovery of an impressive medieval aisled building - possibly a Tithe barn or flint-lined well - and large amounts of pottery has radically changed our knowledge of this period in the village.

Medieval occupation in Capel St Mary was thought to have focused on the historic core near the church, but these finds have revealed a lost part of the village.

Research into medieval documents may uncover more information on who lived in this settlement.

Kelly Biddle, senior development officer at Orwell Housing Association, said: “We were amazed by the amount of findings on site, especially the medieval well, which will hopefully be integrated into the development and have pride of place in our communal gardens.”

The development, off Thorney Road, will create shared ownership and sheltered housing for older people in the village and is expected to be completed next summer.

Have you made an archaeological discovery? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk