Volume 44, part 4 (2020)
A ‘Persistent Place’: late Mesolithic flint-working, Early Bronze Age burials, Iron Age settlement and a Roman farmstead at The Street, Easton
by Tom Woolhouse
Excavations adjacent to The Street, Easton found evidence for human activity spanning some seven millennia, from the Late Mesolithic (c.6500–4000 BC) to the end of the Romano-British period, with probably continuous occupation on or near the site for at least a thousand years between the Early Iron Age (c.800–600 BC) and end of the fourth century AD. This article describes and contextualises the principal results of the excavations and considers why this hillside overlooking the middle reaches of the river Deben was a favoured location for settlement and other activity over such a long span of time.
The Bury St Edmunds Shrine-Keepers’ Accounts, 1520/21 and 1524/25
by David Sherlock
The Bury St Edmunds Abbey shrine-keepers were two monks who continuously guarded the shrine of St Edmund, looked after it and managed the huge number of pilgrims which it attracted. Just two accounts of their business survive one now in Bury St Edmunds Archives and the other in the National Archives. These are brought together for the first time since the dissolution of the abbey, being here transcribed, translated and edited. They tell us a lot about not only the shrine, the saints and festivals associated with it, but also about places in Bury where people who supplied the abbey with rent for the maintenance of the shrine lived.
Minor Place-Names in Suffolk
by David Dymond
Since the publication of its Northamptonshire volume in 1933, the English Place-Name Society has stimulated interest in minor and highly localised place-names. These are frequently called field-names, yet many of them relate to woods, commons, parks, roads and paths, as well as agricultural, industrial and domestic buildings. It is safer therefore to use the term ‘minor place-names’. Based on the county of Suffolk, this article discusses the recovery of minor names, their classification, the way they yield previously unknown history, and the survival of some of them today. As general background, it is worth remembering that in medieval and early modern times, the English farming landscape was intricately named, to an extent which we can hardly imagine today. This was a largely oral vocabulary used regularly by manorial officials, tenant farmers and their labourers as they worked the land, but in writing it survives only sporadically and unevenly. In addition, minor names were often subjected to a layering process in which old names were replaced by new, as fields were amalgamated, divided and their ownership and land use changed. This important trend is illustrated when documents occasionally mention or imply aliases, for example Fairstead or Ashes Pasture in Cowlinge, Church Field or Shooters Close in Horringer, and Foxall or Duddery Mead in Wickhambrook. Furthermore, because the effect of so much agricultural change in modern times has been to denude the landscape, many local names have been forgotten and lost from everyday speech. Nevertheless, the layering of names can be recovered when documents of different dates are compared. Thus, a Barn Meadow in Shimpling, recorded in 1839, reappears as Camping Close on a map of Long Melford manor drawn in 1580.
M.R. James on ‘The Abbey Church at Bury’: the text of a lecture given at the Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds, 21 April 1932
by Richard Hoggett
Although best known as the author of some of the finest ghost stories ever written in the English language, Montague Rhodes James (1862–1936) was first and foremost a formidable scholar, whose many and varied publications addressed subjects as diverse as biblical apocrypha, depictions of the Apocalypse, medieval wall paintings and cathedral roof bosses, and included numerous descriptive catalogues of medieval manuscripts. One of the many subjects in which James was interested was the history of the former Benedictine Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds. Having grown up nearby, he was fascinated by the ruins from an early age and in 1895 produced one of the most significant books about the abbey published to date. James was subsequently instrumental in guiding archaeological investigations of the abbey, and maintained a lifelong interest in the site.
This article reproduces and contextualises the previously unpublished text of a lecture on ‘The Abbey Church at Bury’ given by James at the Bury St Edmunds Athenaeum on 21 April 1932. In it he presented an erudite overview of a lifetime’s research into the structure and appearance of the abbey church, drawing upon numerous documentary sources to conjure up an imaginary tour of the building in its mid-fifteenth-century heyday. It is particularly apt that this transcription should appear in the 2020 volume of the Proceedings, as this year marks the millennial anniversary of the formal foundation of the abbey by King Cnut, an event which is being celebrated widely within the region.
Dispersed Medieval Settlement South of Gipping Road, Stowupland
by Robin Webb
Volume 44, part 3 (2019)
Roman Long Melford, excavations at the primary school: burial rites and bronzesmithing
by Rob Brooks with Jude Plouviez
Agriculture and industry: Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon evidence at Carsons Drive, Great Cornard
by Antony R. R. Mustchin and Kerrie Bull
An archaeological excavation to the east of Carsons Drive, Great Cornard, revealed evidence spanning the Mesolithic to medieval periods, with a particular emphasis on Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon activity. The Romano-British site incorporated a possible working hollow and quarry pits, while Anglo-Saxon features included a pit containing a notable concentration of iron slag and furnace material. Evidence of local agriculture was ubiquitous. The findings complement earlier discoveries of Roman and Saxon material from across the site, and add usefully to our knowledge of past settlement and economy within the immediate landscape.
Saxmundham’s early Anglo-Saxon origins: excavations to the east of Warren Hill
by Graeme Clarke
Excavations in the Sacrist’s Yard at the former Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds
by Andrew A.S. Newton
In September 2012 Archaeological Solutions Ltd conducted an archaeological excavation at a site that has previously been identified as the location of the sacrist’s yard belonging to the medieval abbey of St Edmund. The stratigraphically earliest archaeology could be chronologically divided into features of Saxo-Norman date and of high medieval date. It is suggested that the Saxo-Norman archaeology predates the use of this area as the sacrist’s yard. The high medieval features are likely to be contemporary with the use of this area for this purpose. The later features comprised activity of post-medieval and early modern date, as well as levelling layers and buried soils. Features of these dates are limited but the activity is consistent with the known history of the area and some of the archaeology may represent elements depicted on early cartographic sources. An assemblage of environmental remains gives an insight into a varied diet on this site on the edge of the monastic precinct.
Medieval roadside settlement to the south of Bull Lane, Long Melford
by Dan Firth with Rachel Clarke
The rentals of Holy Trinity Priory in Ipswich
by Keith Briggs
In 1847, W. P. Hunt printed transcriptions of two thirteenth-century rentals of the Priory of the Holy Trinity in Ipswich. Neither rental contains explicit dating evidence, but Hunt assigned them approximately to the middle of the reign of Henry III and to the early years of the reign of Edward I; thus about 1245, and soon after 1272 respectively. After Hunt’s publication, the earlier rental disappeared until it was purchased by Cambridge University Library at auction in 2017. The second rental is in Suffolk Record Office. The present work is motivated by the reappearance of the first rental and the main aim is to determine more precise dates for both documents as an aid to their interpretation as sources for the history of Ipswich.
A further grave cover from Oulton
by Paul Drury
This postscript to ‘The medieval tile-makers of Oulton’ describes another fragmentary semi-effigial ceramic grave cover, subsequently recovered from Oulton churchyard. Heavily worn from setting in the church floor, it depicted in low relief the torso in profile of a figure in prayer. The iconography and production techniques used are closer to the repertoire of potters than tilers. Both were working in Oulton in the early 14th century, suggesting that this and the tilers’ memorials belonged to a local, indeed parochial, tradition.
Archaeology in Suffolk 2018
Individual finds and discoveries
Business and Activities 2018
Volume 44, part 2 (2018)
Beaker pits and Iron Age settlement at Warren Hill, Saxmundham, Suffolk
by Lawrence Billington, Matt Brudenell and Graeme Clarke
The medieval tile-makers of Oulton
by Paul Drury
A tilery in the vicinity of Oulton, Suffolk, operating early in the first half of the 14th century, produced roof tiles as well as floor tiles decorated with designs both in relief and ‘line impressed’. These drew on a wide range of local and regional precedents, but the tilery served a local Broadland market extending as far as Norwich. Uniquely, the designs were also used to decorate semi-effigial ceramic grave cover slabs, on which the head and feet alone were modelled. These occur only at St Michael the Archangel, Oulton and may be associated with the proprietors of the workshop.
Leaders and rebels: John Wrawe’s role in the Suffolk rising of 1381
by Joe Chick
Out of popular interest in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 a number of familiar narratives have formed. The most famous of these is the journey of the Kent and Essex rebels to London. In Suffolk, the ‘story’ of the revolt follows the actions of John Wrawe, a man dubbed ‘the Suffolk leader’. Not all histories place such an emphasis on Wrawe, but his status as the county leader has never been directly challenged. Through exploring the evidence for other Suffolk rebels, this article reaches a number of conclusions. Firstly, that Wrawe’s role as ‘the Suffolk leader’ has been greatly overstated and the existence of entirely separate rebel groups has received too little attention. This poses questions about the handling of chronicle evidence, with Walsingham’s chronicle having directed many historians to attributing an excessively prominent position to Wrawe. Secondly, that the county’s revolt was highly varied, both in terms of aims and the nature of rebel actions, and saw many communities pursuing localised grievances. Thirdly, that there was a sharp divide between the justice received by leading rebels of high and low social status, the former being more likely to continue their careers unhindered.
John Coket: medieval merchant of Ampton
by Nicholas R. Amor
The small village of Ampton lies just over four miles north of Bury St Edmunds and to the east of the Thetford road. In the Middle Ages the taxable population of Ampton and Timworth fluctuated between fifty in 1327 and twenty-three in 1524. Between these dates, owing to the ravages of plague, there might well have been even fewer residents. The abbots of Bury St Edmunds pursued a policy of stifling markets and fairs within their Liberty. Ampton had neither. So, although it appears to have escaped relatively untouched by the mid fifteenth-century recession known as the Great Slump, the village could make no claim to be either a populous centre or a commercial one. Yet in the late 1400s it was home to John Coket, one of Suffolk’s leading and most successful merchants.
The lost manor of Redwell at Great Barton
by Roger Curtis
Great Barton, a village situated to the north-east of Bury St Edmunds, is rich in surviving documents of historical interest. Most of these are to be found in the archive of the Bunbury family, now held at the Suffolk Record Office, Bury. The Bunburys were lords of the manor of Great Barton from 1746 until the sale of the estate following the destruction of Barton Hall by fire in 1914. Documents from the medieval period – when the manor was held by the Benedictine Abbey at Bury St Edmunds – and slightly later contain occasional references to a manor of Redwell. However, no such manor is described by Copinger in The Manors of Suffolk or is found in the Suffolk Manorial Documents Register. Using a variety of sources, including medieval charters and court rolls and a survey of 1613, and with the help of 17th and 18th century maps, it has been possible to identify the ‘manor’ of Redwell with an estate lying in the west of the parish subinfeudated to the convent of the medieval abbey and responsible to the cellarer. The dissolution of the abbey in 1539 probably accounts for the demise of the estate and the Redwell name.
Malthus, poverty and population change in Suffolk 1780–1834
by Richard Smith and Max Satchell
The year 2016 was the 250th anniversary of the birth of T.R. Malthus who retains a significant place in discussions of how society understands its past and present and contemplates its future. He is best known, of course, for his first Essay on Population which was published in 1798 against the background of revolution in France and war between Britain and France. The Essay is particularly famous for the distinction Malthus drew between the ‘positive’ and ‘preventive’ checks to population growth – the positive being death rate surges associated with famine, warfare and disease; and the preventive arising from the exercise of forethought shown by prospective married couples regarding entry into marriage. The Essay appeared and was first read in the midst of a run of years of particularly poor harvests in the very last decade of the eighteenth century and the first of the nineteenth century which created severe food price rises. These dearth-induced price rises exacerbated war-induced inflationary tendencies and were further intensified by rapid national population growth that was close to, or even exceeding, 1 per cent per annum. Indeed the Essay was published during an extended period of sustained population growth that had been unprecedented in the previous three centuries. The relevance of Malthus’ idea to late 18th and early 19th century Suffolk are critically assessed in this paper by reference to the underlying geographical contrasts between the eastern and western parts of the county regarding the ways in which poor relief was delivered as well as their differing demographic and economic contexts.
Archaeology in Suffolk 2017
Individual finds and discoveries
Business and Activities 2017
Volume 44, part 1 (2017)
Excavations at Reydon Farm: early Neolithic pit digging in east Suffolk
by Phil Harding
Archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of a solar farm at Reydon Farm, Reydon, Suffolk, revealed groups of Early Neolithic pits containing variable quantities of Decorated Bowl pottery, worked flint and burnt flint, as well as charred plant remains and charcoal. Two radiocarbon dates obtained from one of the pits indicate that the activity on the site slightly predated the construction and use of causewayed enclosures in the region.
The bounds of the Liberty of Ipswich
by Keith Briggs
When in 1654 Nathaniel Bacon assembled his great manuscript volume of Ipswich documents, he opened it with a description of a perambulation of the Liberty of Ipswich which he claimed to be of the year 26 Edward III, which is 1352/3. Bacon’s copy is the only surviving version of this perambulation, and it has long been taken as authentic. However, the language of this text is modern English, certainly not much earlier than Bacon’s time, and it cannot be an accurate copy of a fourteenth-century original. At best, it is a translation from earlier English, or, more probably, French, by Bacon or someone else of an authentic early original. But it might also be entirely spurious, and the present study was motivated by a desire to answer the question of authenticity, which required an examination of all existing versions of the bounds. This revealed the fact that three of the most important manuscript versions are unpublished, so another aim of the work became the production of transcriptions of those documents; these appear below. This study concerns itself only with geography and topography, leaving aside political questions. There exist also documents describing the bounds of Ipswich by water, concerning the jurisdiction of the Orwell estuary; these documents are also not considered here.
The importance of ‘material’ in late medieval religious bequests
by Jo Sear
The famous perpendicular churches of Suffolk are a reminder of the powerful hold that religion had over the lay population of England during the late Middle Ages. Late medieval wills also contain evidence of pious bequests by which the testator intended to fulfil his or her Christian duties. Whilst the majority of such bequests are monetary gifts to various religious and charitable beneficiaries, many wills also include references to material items of a religious nature. These are of particular interest because it is apparent that not only did the items themselves have a definite significance and purpose, but the actual materials from which they were made also had a meaning. To understand what these objects meant to the people who bequeathed them, it is important to consider this wider context and to understand that these goods existed not simply as a physical item, but also as the embodiment of the material from which they were made. This paper focusses on four types of religious bequests – namely silver, linen, stones and gems and alabaster – and discusses the significance of their materials.
The heraldic glass in Alston Court, Nayland: windows on gentry life in Tudor East Anglia
by Edward Martin
One of the glories of the impressive medieval and Tudor merchant’s house in Nayland that is now known as Alston Court is the rich collection of heraldic glass in its windows, a collection that has excited and intrigued antiquarians and historians for much of the two hundred years that have elapsed since it was first described in 1817. In that year the Revd David Thomas Powell (1771–1848), an artistic antiquary from Tottenham in Middlesex, who was ‘devotedly attached to the study of heraldry and genealogy’, noted excitedly that there were ‘ancient arms in brilliant painted glass … in the hall & other windows of a large old house standing in the town of Nayland in Suffolk a few yards to the west of the church.
Talking garbage: a brief history of domestic waste disposal in Suffolk
by Tim Holt-Wilson
Domestic waste is a core component of many archaeological sites, and provides essential resources for the study of societies in time and space. The progressive systematisation of waste disposal practices in Suffolk is a response to urbanisation, population growth and changing material consumption patterns, within an evolving legal framework. This article outlines some of the historic trends for disposal in the county and their implications for the archaeological record, focusing particularly on the last 150 years. It also provides an overview of waste disposal in Suffolk at the present time.
Archaeology in Suffolk 2016
Individual finds and discoveries
Business and Activities 2016
Volume 43, part 4 (2016)
Middle Iron Age buildings at Westfield Primary School, Chalkstone Way, Haverhill
by Kieron Heard
In 2010 Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service (SCCAS) Field Team carried out a trial trench evaluation and subsequent open area excavation on the Westfield Primary School Replacement site. The most significant result of the fieldwork was the discovery of part of a Middle Iron Age settlement containing at least three circular timber buildings and associated features. Full excavation of the truncated remains of the buildings revealed something of their various forms and methods of construction and produced large finds assemblages with related radiocarbon dates.
The forgotten history of St Botwulf (Botolph)
by Sam Newton
The cult of St Bótwulf, or Botolph, was clearly important in medieval England. There were at least sixty-one churches dedicated to him and his name still resonates today, yet very little appears to be remembered about him. In this paper I have sought to chart something of his forgotten history through a combination of studies in Latin ecclesiastical sources, especially Abbot Folcard’s Vita Beati Botulphi Abbatis, and Old English literature and poetry, as well as landscape history, archaeology, and folklore.
A medieval farmstead at Days Road, Capel St Mary
by Jonathan Tabor
The excavation of a significant later prehistoric and medieval settlement site at Days Road, Capel St. Mary, recorded episodic occupation spanning over a millennium and yielded artefactual assemblages, which have provided insights into the changing character and economy of rural settlement over this period. The site's later prehistoric remains have been detailed in a previous paper, allowing this paper to focus on the twelfth- to fourteenth-century farmstead which occupied the site following a settlement hiatus of over 1000 years. One of the few excavated medieval farmsteads in the region, the site and its finds assemblage, together with the associated documentary evidence, provides an important insight into the character of rural medieval settlement in Suffolk.
The medieval port of Goseford
by Peter Wain
Goseford, at the mouth of the river Deben, is poorly documented. There are no records from the port itself. There are few records of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries from the parishes that surrounded the port. It is mentioned occasionally and incidentally in the published records of central government. As a result Goseford is something of a footnote in books, if it is mentioned at all. Such as they are, references are often erroneous. ‘Goseford, co Suffolk (now submerged)’ or ‘Goseford, a now extinct town’. It has even been asserted that Goseford did not actually exist as a port and that the name simply referred a well-known collecting point of ships in the river estuary. There are frequent references to it in this context. Any information about the port comes indirectly and in piecemeal form.
The purpose of this article is to bring together some pieces of the jigsaw and show that, far from being a footnote in history, Goseford was well known as a busy, thriving port engaged in coastal trade and trade with Europe. It was in addition a significant source of ships for others to engage in international trade and for kings to prosecute their wars. At its peak it ranked among the most important sources of shipping in England. Its subsequent obscurity is, in part, explained by its sudden and rapid decline at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
The Ipswich town governors and the Privy Council in the 1620s
by Deirdre Heavens
As a large port on England’s east coast with well-established trading routes, Ipswich was badly affected by Charles I and the Duke of Buckingham’s naval expeditions in 1625 and 1626. This situation exacerbated the difficulties that the town’s economy was already experiencing from the impact of the European wars upon its trading activities. The fiscal measures that the king and the Privy Council enforced upon the coastal towns and their counties would shape Ipswich’s relationship with the State and also the relationship between the town and the county administration in Suffolk.
Archaeology in Suffolk 2015
Individual finds and discoveries
Business and Activities