Gallery: Skeletons, rubbish pits and burial grounds – exciting archaeological finds in Ipswich could unlock our past

AS one of the country’s oldest towns Ipswich has always been a place of special interest for historians delving into our Saxon history.

With a busy port, the town was then a hive of activity with thousands arriving in the area and choosing to settle here.

Now archaeologists are hoping to shed more light on the lives of the town’s earlier inhabitants with a series of digs near the Waterfront.

About 40 people are currently working on a site in Great Whip Street, on the border with Stoke Quay, with a number of burial sites and pits, some dating back to the 7th Century, having already been discovered.

The excavation is being conducted by Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology in order to study the site before work begins to create new homes there in October.

Paul Murray, Oxford Archaeology’s senior project officer, said: “It’s a very good site.

“The more that we can find out about early Ipswich the more we get to understand, not only about Ipswich and the East of England, but the way Britain was operating and what was coming here.”

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The team have been working on the site for more than 11 weeks. Among the discoveries already unearthed include a cemetery, which is thought to date back to about the 11th Century containing 200 individual graves, the remains of which will be re-buried.

Archeologists discovered the remains of a man, believed to be more than 40 years old who suffered from leprosy, and a male of African origin, who it is believed could have been a mariner.

Helen Webb, an osteoarchaeologist at the site, said: “It is looking like a male and the facial features are of negroid type. This one (remains) has quite a lot of infection.”

Mr Murray added: “It is an unusual find.”

Graves dating back to the 6th Century have also been found while a series of pits, used to discard rubbish, should reveal more about the settlement’s inhabitants.

Mr Murray said: “We have a few Medieval and Saxon pits, rubbish pits, which shows what they left behind and it contains a lot of information regarding their diet and the environment.”

n What do you think of the discoveries? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to